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David Zetland in Biznews about watershortage in California

Yesterday, an article appeared in Biznews about the watershortages in California. David Zetland, university lecturer at Leiden University College, gives his opinion about this problem.

Is it equal?

Exporting large amounts of water from one farm region to another and aggressively pumping groundwater both negatively affect landowners. Less surface water creates a greater need to pump from underground, which lowers the water table for all users. As water drops, growers engage in a well-digging arms race. 

Zetland indicates that from that perspective, water moving becomes massively economically inefficient. This is the case because digging a new well can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and as each farmer chases water deeper into the earth, it not only pushes others to go deeper, but also undermines expensive efforts to recharge the aquifer. 

He explains this with the example of the Westlands Water District, which borders Kings County. They have plans to gather water in heavy rainfall years and inject it into the aquifer to safeguard water levels. But this is made difficult if Kings Country drops the water levels 60 to 100 feet. 
He also mentions that whether the water is leaving Kings County for cash payments or to grow crops that will eventually be sold for profit, it’s all the same thing. 

Those are just some of the indirect costs attached to moving large amounts of water out of a region, Zetland said. The cost to society of pushing out smaller farmers is harder to calculate.

“If the little guys disappear, we lose business diversity and expertise,”
“We lose entrepreneurs. We lose innovation.”

Still, Zetland says that this is what businesses do. Therefore, he finds the state of California at fault. “They set the ground rules, and once the rules are set, people play the game.”




Read the whole article here


David Zetland is a university lecturer at Leiden University College, where he convenes the GED major and teaches classes on economics, entrepreneurship, sustainability, and the commons. He received his PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from UC Davis in 2008, and held positions in the US, Netherlands, Canada and Saudi Arabia before coming to LUC. David gives talks to public, professional and academic audiences and writes for popular and academic outlets.

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