Resnick’s water bank takes big judicial hit
March 6, 2014
Billionaire Stewart Resnick’s nut dynasty in the Central Valley has taken a major hit following a ruling Wednesday by a Sacramento judge that state officials failed to “properly analyze” the environmental impact of the Kern Water Bank. [Los Angeles Times]
That ruling calls into question elements of the controversial practice of “water banking,” and may seriously impede efforts by state water developers to create more of these banks.
Resnick and his agribusiness giant Paramount Farms gained control of the Kern Water Bank through a series of secret maneuvers two decades ago, and has dealt with lawsuits ever since.
Resnick purchased the 750-acre Hardham Ranch on the southeastern edge of Paso Robles in 2010 and quietly converted the land from a dry-farm ranch to a fully planted and irrigated vineyard. Numerous professional associates of Resnick’s are now involved in plans to form a transfer-capable water district to manage the Paso Robles water basin.
Judge Timothy Frawley’s decision noted the potential of damaging effects of the Kern Water Bank on groundwater supplies and quality. Banking is the practice of storing water when supplies are abundant to use in dry periods, a practice which also creates the opportunity and infrastructure to sell, swap, transfer or barter water with geographically-distant users.
In the Imperial Valley, a fiercely-fought scrap over the sale of water from farms to cities has become mired in litigation despite being hailed in 2003 as a “good deal” for everyone. [Los Angeles Times]