At a reported offer price of $700 for an acre-foot of water, some California rice farmers could make more money selling water than planting rice, and reports are that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a willing buyer at that price.
But many irrigation districts cap the amount of water that can be transferred, and others have a no-fallowing policy, both of which put roadblocks into such sales, according to Andrew Creasey who wrote about the scheme for the Appeal-Democrat newspaper and website that serves California Mid-Valley communities.
Beyond those constraints, anticipated cuts in the water supply from the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project could halt the proposed water transfers altogether, said Jim Morris, spokesman for the California Rice Commission, as reported by Creasey.
Interest in the sale of water by rice farmers is thought to be high, but of course, there are all kinds of political maneuvering among a number of water districts, municipal boards and state agencies. The districts can cut allocations of water so that there isn’t water to sell.
To read the complicated explanation about the economic impact and outlook on mid-California agricultural industries click here.