Drought mostly over, govt. water takeover isn’t

Drought mostly over, govt. water takeover isn’t

drought.caIt looks like the drought is receding, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported on Thursday:

In summary, a wet December (to date) has provided California a foothold for drought recovery, but 3 straight winters of subnormal precipitation will take time (possibly several consecutive wet winters) to fully recharge the reservoir levels and subsoil moisture back to normal. With several more months still left in the wet season, it is possible that additional storms similar to the ones that just occurred will continue to chip away at the long-term hydrological drought, and the addition of lower temperatures would help build the snow pack. “Cautious optimism, but still a long way to go” would be the very short summary for this week’s California drought picture.

During the worst days of this year’s drought, oft cited was the maxim of Rahm Emanuel when he was White House Chief of Staff in 2009 during the worst time of the Great Recession, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” He meant the crisis was a great excuse to vastly increase government’s powers, which Obama and the Democratic Congress of those days did.

The same thing happened earlier this year during the driest part of the state drought. Environmental law professor Richard Frank discussed what happened, including the government takeover of groundwater.


I wrote on our site in August:

In 2010, I did some freelance work for Susan Trager, one of California’s top water lawyers. Unfortunately she died in 2011.

Even though I had been writing about California since 1987 and had a general idea of state water policy, until I worked for Susan I had no idea how complex, developed and even rational water policy is.

In California, water rights and use mostly are “adjudicted.” The rights are mostly private, as are the lawyers involved; but the state courts system referees disputes. Other than the courts, the state is involved only if the state itself has water rights. Even the federal government, because of federal law, follows state adjudication decisions. The ultimate adjudicator is the California Supreme Court.

The adjudications sometimes can take decades. Yet somehow, it works. Along with federal bankruptcy court, California water adjudication is one of the few areas of government that actually works fairly well.

This system, which is more than 100 years old, now is endangered because state legislators are using the drought as an excuse to increase their control over private water.

Which they did, in legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who should have known better.


I warned the main beneficiaries would be lawyers trying to untangle the new system with the old. And lawsuits also would strike over state “takings” of private water.

Now it turns out the drought is receding; so the laws weren’t needed. The crisis, from a socialist perspective, wasn’t “wasted,” because government grew bigger. The new, unneeded laws won’t be repealed.

But water will cost more for Californians, with the money instead going to the government and lawyers, who always seem to be the ones who benefit from every “crisis,” even an imagined one like this.


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  1. Tesla_x
    Tesla_x 21 December, 2014, 09:52

    Why should we not think that this was the endgame from the start?

    They used the drought and the SMELT FRAUD, as an excuse to STEAL water rights, and to increase costs to residents.

    It’s that simple.

    DEMOCRATS and environmental EXTREMISTS have partially succeeded to create scarcity and raise the costs of water, food, energy.

    This supports their ganGREEN businesses, and also drives otherwise healthy domestic business overseas, where environmental regulations are almost nonexistent.

    It’s a lose lose for everyone (even the environment) except for corrupt DEMOCRATS, and short sighted ganGREEN business interests, living from one ‘political contribution’ or government subsidy to the next.

    If the Governor has any shred of honesty left in him, he will roll back the ‘unneeded laws,’ and undo the damage to water rights owners through a clearly illegal taking of rights.

    Reply this comment
  2. bob
    bob 21 December, 2014, 12:17

    Rahm Emanuel when he was White House Chief of Staff in 2009 during the worst time of the Great Recession, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” He meant the crisis was a great excuse to vastly increase government’s powers, which Obama and the Democratic Congress of those days did.

    Exactly. And the libtards and trough feeders that infest this blog would have it no other way. And to allow all this to happen they depend on a compliant, do nothing populous that are nothing more than sheeple. Scare the shiite outta the sheeple and they’ll coming running to there government masters everytime, baa’ing with alacrity.

    Reply this comment
  3. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 21 December, 2014, 16:01

    Since drought is a recurring feature of our state, why would you not want our government involved in mitigating its impact? Whether our current drought is ending is still an open question. What is not an open question is whether or not there will be another severe drought in our future.

    Reply this comment
    • eck
      eck 22 December, 2014, 19:37

      Nooo, nooo, the wrong question completely. The real question (except for you ultra-left types) is “Why would you want our government involved?”

      Reply this comment
      • Skippingdog
        Skippingdog 23 December, 2014, 11:01

        Water is a common good, particularly in a state subject to frequent drought. Private water rights only work as long as there is a surplus in relation to the needs of both our population and our obligation to preserve the environment for our progeny. The “tragedy of the commons” is an object lesson equally applicable to our scarce water resources. Only a crackpot ideologue would claim other otherwise, eck.

        Reply this comment
  4. T Mind of your Ted Godhead System
    T Mind of your Ted Godhead System 22 December, 2014, 19:37

    Maybe we can let Sony fix our droughts? I mean they re private sector pros, riiiight?

    Oh—no—-wait——-this just handed to me…..they are surrender monkeys
    It’s our President who kills terrorists and takes action!

    Reply this comment
  5. Itachee
    Itachee 23 December, 2014, 09:23

    With all due respect to whoever wrote it, the title on this article “Drought Mostly Over…..” isn’t jsut grossly misleading it is about as far from the truth as one can get. As a retired water resources engineer I can tell you the recent rains have hardly even put a dent in drought recovery. Recovery from the will drought takes years. In point of fact we would need such storms to continue for at least 2-3 years before recovery would have occurred.

    Reply this comment
    • Skippingdog
      Skippingdog 23 December, 2014, 11:05

      The folks who write this stuff never even consider factors such as the long term depletion of our aquifers in the Central Valley and elsewhere. You can always count on the CWD writers to proffer the “rape the land to make a buck” approach. Wingnuts like eck, Donkey, and some others seem to appreciate that approach.

      Reply this comment

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Jerry BrownJohn SeilerSusan Tragerwater law

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