Paper Water is a video about the sordid things happening in California’s water world. It is about four corners of darkness, kept obscured to serve the interests of a handful of wealthy and powerful individuals and agribusiness corporations.
The subjects of this video are: Beverley Hills billionaire “farmer” Stewart Resnick, the Kern Water Bank, the Monterey Plus Amendments, and the powerful Westlands Water District. Any one of these stories is alarming. Taken together as a whole, it is easy to see why wild California King salmon are on the edge of extinction and why California taxpayers and water rate payers in southern California are being screwed.
Beverley Hills billionaire “farmer” Stewart Resnick is well known for his generous gift giving. He has given millions of dollars for hospitals, art museums, education and research that benefit many. But less well known are his donations to state and national politicians. This segment of Paper Water documents his political donations, his connections to powerful politicians, and his need for unlimited irrigation water to keep his Paramount Farms business productive. It was Mr. Resnick who demanded that the National Academy of Science re-review the work of Federal scientists that resulted in pumping restrictions of Delta water in order to protect salmon and other species from going extinct. He did not agree with those protection plans so he pushed Senator Diane Feinstein to have the Obama administration review the validity of the plans. That cost taxpayers $750,000 only to be told that the protection plan was “scientifically justified.” Mr. Resnick is a very wealthy and powerful player in the struggle over California Water and as you will see in this video, his name keeps popping up.
Kern Water Bank
The story of the Kern Water Bank is important because it started as a taxpayer-funded project to store water underground so it could be made available in times of scarcity to those who needed it. But the State ended up walking away from the project and handed it over to the Kern Water Agency who immediately gave ownership of it to the Kern Water Bank Authority, an entity made up of water districts and Paramount Farms, owned by Stewart Resnick. Mr. Resnick is the major owner and beneficiary of this former State-owned water bank and it has made him even richer and more powerful.
Monterey Plus Amendments
In 1994 the state contractors that deliver water to cities and agriculture met secretly in Monterey to re-write the rules of water delivery. They wanted to change the rules that protected urban areas in times of drought. This is a very difficult subject to understand but the bottom line is that the original 1960 rules were thrown out so that big agriculture and big real estate developers could have their way with a public trust resource, water. And here again, the name of Paramount Farms and Stewart Resnick comes into the story.
Westlands Water District
Without a doubt, the Westlands Water District is the most powerful and loudest voice in the battle over water use. This segment of Paper Water looks at who the players are in Westlands and what we believe is their ultimate endgame. Their continuing demands for more and more water have put salmon on the brink of extinction. But, for what? They will tell you they need the water to irrigate crops, which is true. But the land they grow those crops in is toxic, desert soil that will eventually become totally unsuitable for agriculture. They know that but water rights are more valuable than the crops they grow so they continue to demand water that is critical for recovering salmon.
These are complicated stories. These are important stories. These are stories that deserve to be told, especially now in the run-up to the 2010 General Election which has voters deciding YES or NO on the $11.1 billion dollar water bond. We believe that any one of the four stories presented in this video make a compelling argument to vote NO on the water bond. If it passes, the forces of darkness shown in the video will continue to have their way. They will continue to ratchet up their demands for water regardless of the impact on California’s fragile ecosystems, and the State’s fiscal health.
Paper Water is a wake-up call. A call for balance and equitable distribution of water for cities, sustainable agriculture, and our natural ecosystems. A call for sanity and the end of personal and corporate wealth at the expense taxpayers and the environment.
Share this eye-opening video with your friends, family and co-workers because it is way past time for Salmon Water Now!