In New Book, Veteran Journalist Shows How to End California’s Water Wars, Protect Habitats and Meet State’s Water Needs
California can end its decades-long water wars and meet the state’s water needs by promoting abundance rather than managing scarcity, writes veteran journalist Steven Greenhut in Winning the Water Wars, published today by the nonpartisan Pacific Research Institute.
Greenhut writes, “this book does not propose solely building more dams . . . I explain the importance of water pricing and trading, regulatory reforms, desalination, wastewater treatment, upgrading water-conveyance systems and other ideas. I’m for all of the above . . . The main focus is on creating water abundance, rather than on having political fights over a declining water supply.”
One focus of the book explores the ongoing water policy debate between agricultural interests advocating increased storage, and environmental advocates who oppose these projects in the name of habitat restoration. Greenhut argues that abundance would more effectively protect endangered fish than flushing water out to sea.
“There’s nothing wrong with prioritizing the needs of people, while still paying attention to habitat restoration. More water allows the state to deal with all these priorities,” he writes.
Greenhut reviews water reform ideas across the political spectrum and outlines free market water reforms. One proposal to increase supply involves a more accurate water market pricing system to better facilitate transfers and trading.
“The state needs to reform its regulatory barriers to water trading . . . and also needs a better pricing system to allow markets to work their magic,” he concludes. “But pricing must come against a backdrop of water abundance rather than one that leaves everyone fighting over an artificially capped supply.”
Winning the Water Wars has won bipartisan praise from policymakers, industry leaders and advocates.
“In his new book, Steven Greenhut presents an honest look at the disputes that have characterized water policy in California for more than a century,” said U.S. Rep. Lou Correa, D-Anaheim. “While you may not agree with all of his ideas, Winning the Water Wars is an important contribution to the discussion over how we’ll shape California’s water future.”
“Steve Greenhut has dared to wade into the California Water Wars with some common-sense solutions and some eye-opening information that is critically important for ALL Californians to read and consider carefully,” said Mike Villines, who was Assembly Republican Leader from 2006-09.
Greenhut has written on state politics and policy for more than two decades, writing for the Orange County Register and San Diego Union-Tribune among other publications. Presently, he is western region director for the R Street Institute and writes regular columns about California issues. Previously, he founded PRI’s former nonprofit journalism center, CalWatchdog.