State senators have requested U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland investigate possible water profiteering during the drought.
Melissa Hurtado of Sanger and Dave Cortese of Silicon Valley sent the AG a letter Tuesday decrying water rights abuses. They worried hedge funds are buying up land for the water rights through anti-competitive practices.
Hurtado said in a statement that this has been happening while “farmers and water managers are struggling to find the water we need to survive.” Cortese added that the social and economic impacts could be disastrous.
Trading water as an interstate commodity ignores the public trust doctrine for preserving resources, they argued, while raising alarms that this could be happening throughout California and along Colorado River states as well.
Hurtado has a bill restricting foreign governments from buying up farmland. It awaits a critical committee decision today over the fiscal impacts to the state.
Hurtado and Cortese have also teamed up on a bill that would have dissolved the state water board. After committee amendments, it would instead establish a committee to study water issues. The bill is also awaiting a verdict from the Senate Appropriations Committee.