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« AWRA 2008 Annual Conference Call for Abstracts | Main | Western Water: Unpredictable, If Nothing Else »

Monday, 17 March 2008


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Great post. I'm really surprised that her snippets haven't changed more in past four years.


Up until the CVP, nearly all water projects in California were privately conceived and funded, and there were some darn big ones built (Miller & Lux's, for example). We still use a lot of that infrastructure today, and it has delivered billions in public value, from agricultural tax revenues, from flood control, and from the water supplied to game refuges. From an environmental perspective, they were no worse than anything the government built; perhaps better, because they were of necessity smaller in scale. There is plenty of statutory and case law protecting the interests of third parties when water is privately owned. We should look at public ownership as the last, not the first resort, when considering most projects, whether they are water related or not.


Hi, Jared.
Thanks for your comment. I expect people will say that Barlow is looking at the big picture, so what's the problem if she doesn't have a few facts nailed down? Well, if she is confused or unsure about certain things, she should not comment on them and stick to what she knows. Otherwise, her entire message becomes suspect. She has set herself up as a water expert.

As for privatization, you will note that I said that local oversight and lifelines are key. Without those, privatization sucks. And, at least in the Western USA, states allocate water. I don't worry about GE taking over Oregon's water, but if they want to sell Oregon's utilities equipment to treat water, that's fine with me.

We do have private water companies in the USA and they don't seem to be any worse than public utilities. Sierra Pacific in Reno comes to mind.

You're right, water belongs to all, but it does cost money to collect, treat, distribute, and to re-treat after human use. And that's the rub - it can't ever be truly "free" (unless you do all the collecting, treatment, etc., yourself).


Great informative stuff, as expected from the Aquadoc. Your point about Barlow is well-taken, and perhaps I should be more skeptical. However, while she may be off on specifics, she's got the big picture nailed. Most importantly, she is raising awareness of water issues among non-water wonks, which now comprise about 99.99999999% of the population, if my calculations are correct. And, seriously, there is something very wrong with privatization of water, both domestically and globally. Privatization has never, and never will solve any problem. That is what the privatizers (which is not a word) want everyone to believe. Privatization of water allows a tiny group of people to control and distribute and profit from a resource that has always and will always belong to everyone.


Thanks for your comment, Philip.

I agree about Amy Goodman - the self-styled "exception to the rulers." I have heard her in person and am glad she's around. We need to hear from people on both the far left and the far right.


I kind of get a kick out of Amy Goodman, too; but her journalism reminds me of TASS and Pravda. It is typical of the Pacifica crowd to lionize some uninformed crank like Barlow. However, without Goodman and her ilk we would never hear many voices, no matter how off track most are.

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