[env-trinity] Westlands Water District Water Service Delivery Renewal Contract

Byron bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Sep 21 08:34:28 PDT 2005

Environmental Working Group 
Published on September 14, 2005 

The federal government is about to make a deal to give a few hundred
California farmers control of more water than Los Angeles, San Francisco and
San Diego combined use in a year - at pennies on the dollar of the price
paid by urban water users. 

The Bureau of Reclamation is poised to sign a contract with the giant
Westlands Water District that will set the price and amount of water the
district gets from the Central Valley Project (CVP) for the next 25 to 50
years. An investigation by Environmental Working Group (EWG) calculated the
value of Westlands' federal water subsidy at $110 million a year - an amount
the new contract will boost by tens of millions of dollars a year. Over the
life of the new contract, Westlands stands to rake in billions of dollars
from federal taxpayers. 

Terms of the Westlands contract will affect the supply and cost of water
throughout California for decades to come. EWG's investigation, available at
http://www.ewg.org, found: 

- The amount of water promised in the proposed contract is an increase of
more than 50 percent over Westlands' current use.   Yet, in violation of
federal law, none of the additional water was considered in studies of the
new contract's environmental impact.

- Westlands is being promised more water even though it's getting $107
million from taxpayers in exchange for removing from cultivation 34,000
acres ruined by irrigation. To solve severe drainage problems, up to half of
the 600,000-acre district may be taken out of production - but the contract
implies that Westlands would get to keep its full current water allotment. 

- Nowhere in the contract does it say what price Westlands will pay for
water in 2006 and beyond. With future prices a mystery, the contract cannot
guarantee that Westlands will, as required by law, pay off the $386 million
it owes the government as its share of the cost of building the CVP, the
largest federal irrigation system in the nation. 

"Westlands' new contract is a bad deal for urban water users, for fish and
wildlife in the rivers it draws its water from, for state water planners -
everybody but Westlands," said EWG Senior Analyst Renee Sharp, principal
author of the report. "The Bureau of Reclamation is signing over the future
of California's scarcest and most valuable resource to a group of rich
agribusinesses who pay less than one-fifth the water's market value. This
contract should be flushed down the drain." 


Byron Leydecker, 

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

Consultant, California Trout, Inc.

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 ph

415 383 9562 fx

bwl3 at comcast.net

bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org (secondary)





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