Questions on water rights

Davis paid $10 million for summer water rights from the Conaway Ranch for use of Sacramento River water. Did Davis get a good deal?

At the time, when the water rights purchase was agreed to, the indications were that California was and had been in a drought for a while. There is still a drought and no entity is drawing water from the Sacramento River that doesn’t have pre-1914 drawing rights. Next year, the drought is predicted to continue.

At some time in the future, will Davis ever secure any summer water from the Sacramento River? I may be wrong, but I don’t believe so.

Now, UC Davis has decided “to sign on to the surface water project” at a cost of $20 million. Before, when the drought was less intense, UCD was unwilling to sign on to the deal. Why? My guess is UCD is paying $20 million for some other purpose and is hiding that fact it is for signing on to the project.

Whatever I speculate, the fact is that the water treatment plant is being built with the capacity to process water. The question is: what water? Strangely, it may be winter Sacramento River water. An idea has been proposed to take winter surface water and store it in underground aquifers for later use. If that is the case, we may be in a situation where we are paying for summer surface water rights we never use, while storing winter surface water for which we need no purchased water rights.

Davis, if I’m right, will be $10 million in the hole. The question is: If that money is actually not going to deliver summer surface water to Davis, is there a deal wherein $10 million of Davis money is being transferred for some other purpose?

Just some thoughts …

Jim Leonard

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