Friday, October 24, 2008

Another Reservoir to Store Colorado River Water?

A groundbreaking ceremony took place this week to provide more water for southern Nevada, central Arizona and Southern California, a good thing in light of our drought conditions, right?

The $172 million reservoir being built in the Imperial Valley of Southern California will store more Colorado River for the three states building it. However, this means less water being delivered to Mexico. Mexico has been receiving excess water from the Colorado River when available, more than they are “entitled” to under a 1944 treaty.

An Imperial Irrigation District board member said, “It’s not Mexico’s water, it’s California’s water.” But is water really something countries (or states, or individuals) should “own”?

Before the United States began diverting Colorado River water, the river ran free from it’s headwaters in the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California. This fresh water carried silt to the Delta which once covered 1.9 million acres. The delta wetlands supported abundant plant, bird and marine life. Diversions of freshwater for the U.S. resulted in a loss of freshwater for the Delta, consequently, the Delta has been reduced to about 10% of its original size.

So, if you haven’t already gotten the message that conserving water is a good thing, here’s yet another reason not to be wasteful. Water is a natural resource that has benefits beyond our use around our homes and businesses, water is necessary to support ecosystems such as the Colorado River Delta. For more information regarding ongoing work to heal the delta visit


Anonymous said...

Why isn't water something that someone can own?

Is water not a physical entity? When I purchase bottled water, am I only buying the bottle and getting the water for free? If I have a pond on my property, can my neighbor pump the water for his own use without my permission?

The traditional principles of property rights includes: control of the use of the property, the right to any benefit from the property, a right to transfer or sell the property and a right to exclude others from the property. It is nonsensical to argue that these rights don't apply to water.

Loyd said...

Anonymous comment reminds me of the arguments presented during the original water battles that took place throughout the west in the late 1800s - early 1900s when farmers were left without water after ranchers or other farmers took more than their share. Too bad we couldn't have learned from history instead of letting it repeat itself.

Nola said...

The Public Trust Doctrine dates to Roman Times, was inherited by England's legal system and ultimately made it's way into U.S. common law. The Doctrine states, "By the law of nature these things are common to mankind - the air, running water, the sea and consequently the shores of the sea."

Public uses of water resources were to be protected by the state, which, as a trustee, could not grant exclusive rights to any single individual or entity. Giving ownership or rights to an individual would infringe on the public’s right to access and use the resource.