Privatized water ownership poses dilemma

Julian Weiss, Reporter

Water in California has been an important issue since the state’s beginning, involving shady political water deals. Add to this climate change and we have hit a point where some people in our state live without water.

While it’s true that corporate agribusiness contributes to the economy and creates jobs, however control over water rights should not be privatized for personal gain. Shady political deals have taken this basic human right, water, out of the hands of the public and privatized it for agriculture tycoons in the Central Valley.

The Kern Water Agency threatened to sue the state to recover millions of dollars in the early 1990s due to the drought unless there were changes in the State Water Project. In an attempt to avoid the lawsuit, the Department of Water Resources created the Monterey Agreement to support big agriculture represented by Tom Clark and urban water users represented by Tom Quinn according to the documentary Water and Power: a California Heist.

The agreement included a commitment by the Department of Water Resources to make an effort to complete State Water Project facilities, and transfer ownership and operation of the Kern Water Bank from the state to the Kern County Water Agency, according to the Water Education Foundation.

Stewart and Lynda Resnick are multi-billionaires who have made their fortune through their agricultural empire Paramount Farms in Kern County. The Resnick’s have many friends in the Kern Water Agency which resulted in Paramount Farms owning 58 percent of the groundwater bank. The Kern Water Bank has huge potential to change the lives of the residents of Lost Hills.

Lost Hills’ residents are currently living without running water and if they have the luxury at all, it’s tainted with chlorine or arsenic. They have to shower using buckets and can only drink bottled water, while the Resnick’s just a few miles away have all the clean water they can get for their estate and its 183,000 acres of crops.

The important issue that concerns me is their influence in Sacramento and Washington. The Resnick’s have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to California politicians including Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. They have even invited Dianne Feinstein to their mansion to talk about her influence on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

Now in the 2018 Gubernatorial Race, they haven’t stopped trying to manipulate our politicians. Gavin Newsom received $116,800 from the Resnick’s and Antonio Villaraigosa, former Los Angeles mayor, received $112,800, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Resnick’s have played their cards right in the California water wars. They continue to benefit from the Monterey Agreement and hog the water that is meant for the public. This unconstitutional scam must change and we must settle the water wars of California.

We have to be vigilant in who we vote for and look at who their donors are in order to stop this mass political sellout to big agriculture.