Essay: California’s Water

California Water Heist
By Anthony Rosario-Licerio

Land Barons continued dispossession of resources and the turning of these resources into commodities has created a turf war over California’s most precious resource Water. California’s State Water Project was a pet project for Governor Pat Brown who pushed the project stalled by state Democrats. The project damned the Sacramento River in order to divert water into the interior of California turning fertile scrub land into fertile farmland and connecting the northern water supply (⅔ of the water is water from Northern California) to southern California (⅔ of California’s population). Achieving the one California envisioned by Pat Brown.

Monterey, California, 1994, The reallocation of water during drought but ultimately rewrote the state water contract, known as The Monterey Amendments.

From this meeting The Kern Water Bank was proposed by the state, the concept of the Kern Water Bank was simple. During high flow years in the North water would flow to Kern County to be stored in an already empty groundwater reservoir to be drawn during a drought. Control of the authority was given to public water districts Tejon-Castac, Semitropic, Kern County Water Agency, Wheeler Ridge Maricopa. Dudley Ridge (water district) and the private entity Westside Mutual LLC (Paramount Farms, Roll International Corporation). The result of the Monterey Agreement, Paramount Farms and Stewart Resnick walking away with 58% control of the Kern County Water bank which is supposed to be allocated during drought. And, since the Monterey Agreement Paramount Farms production has doubled (Almonds, Pistachio, Pomegranates).

The resonating effects of the Monterey Amendments have caused massive drought and has forced the hand of farmers. Who draw 60% of their water from groundwater. Groundwater is an unregulated resource and as a result everyone is pumping water. Subsidence, caused when enough water is drawn from an aquifer, destabilizes the land above and causes the land to sink. 

The ripples continue as over one million California residents are currently without access to clean, drinkable water. And, the privatization of water is only going to continue with big business purchasing swaths of ‘agricultural lands’. Hancock Agricultural Investment Group 24,000 acres, The Wonderful Company 16,00 acres, Harvard/Brodiaea Wineries 10,00 acres just to name a few. If you are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel we have 20 long years to wait.  

To put this simply, Water Brokers and Big Agriculture are out buying Small and Medium farms to turn a profit. And, they are allowed to do so because they wrote the rules to the game they are playing. Our group has a solution we believe will help mitigate the burdens placed on this unsustainable system. And, is why we propose using greywater as the main resource to irrigate the farm lands of  San Joaquin Valley. 

Work Cited

Zenovich, M. (Director), & Arax, M. (Writer). (n.d.). Water and Power: A California Heist[Documentary]. Retrieved March 01, 2018.

Greywater Reuse. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2018, from


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