Thursday, March 19, 2009

The problem with water pricing

...in short, is that crazy-ass stuff like this is all too likely:
But according to the state of Colorado, the rain that falls on Holstrom's property is not hers to keep. It should be allowed to fall to the ground and flow unimpeded into surrounding creeks and streams, the law states, to become the property of farmers, ranchers, developers and water agencies that have bought the rights to those waterways.

What Holstrom does is called rainwater harvesting. It's a practice that dates back to the dawn of civilization, and is increasingly in vogue among environmentalists and others who pursue sustainable lifestyles. They collect varying amounts of water, depending on the rainfall and the vessels they collect it in. The only risk involved is losing it to evaporation. Or running afoul of Western states' water laws.

Those laws, some of them more than a century old, have governed the development of the region since pioneer days.

"If you try to collect rainwater, well, that water really belongs to someone else," said Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress. "We get into a very detailed accounting on every little drop."
Welcome, Coloradan environmentalists, to the reality of water privatisation. The people of Cochabamba, Bolivia, can fill you in on the rest.

4 comments:

Flocons said...

If they drink the collected rain water, then pee into Colorado's water supply, then everything should be even-Steven, should it not? (Of course, I believe public urination is the solution to all of life's problems.)

Mike said...

Welcome, Coloradan environmentalists, to the reality of water privatisation

Perhaps I'm missing something John, but I see it as the exact opposite problem - state laws, some more than a century old, remove the right to private property, not grant it. Holststrom has had the right to use the water on her own property and the title has been granted by fiat of the government to cronies and collectives.

This is more of a government enforced cartel, rather than private property rights. In absence of state laws and regulations, could any of those companies, farmers or developers claim the water as there?

Nope.

Anonymous said...


This is more of a government enforced cartel, rather than private property rights.


The point is - water privitization in Bolivia works pretty much the same way - the government enforces the ownership rights of the cartel that owns the land that the water is on.

The only reason that it appears different here is because the cartel that owns the water in the West are farmers and ranchers and the water rights are a tangled mess because they were, in fact, carefully negotiated treaties among several parties that, a little over 100 years ago, were in open warfare with each other over water usage. We don't talk about it much in the US, but the western wars over water were nasty and brutal and only came to an end because of these patchworks of laws.

The American West likes to pretend that it's a bastion of libertarianism, but it isn't. And stuff like this is an in your face reminder of just how much the government really is involved in keeping the West alive. If the water laws in the west go away, communities will probably dry up and die. The only reason the West "works" is because folks in Colorado barely have a right to the water that comes down off the Rockies so that folks in Texas can get their "fair share".

Saskboy said...

Drought World - new Kevin Costner movie?

Gangs of desperate people scrounge the vast desert earth for water, and fight over it.

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I like the pee in the river solution.
Saucy and sensible way to borrow water.

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I hope those rain barrels are covered with netting to keep bugs off.