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The EID board has devoted much of its last three meetings to how to motivate its customers to conserve our district water during the current drought. This is a very important part of its job.
Unfortunately, the board is also engaged in industrial planning politics, namely providing far below cost water to 720 residential small farms. Agriculture is an important part of El Dorado County’s heritage and identity but it is not the most important economic activity. In 2012, agriculture contributed a modest 2 percent to the economic value of EDC’s $1.8 billion economy according to The California Economic Forecast. Most of that came from 200 real farms, not 720 residential small farmers, many who are required to show only annual revenue of $1,000 to qualify for the heavily subsidized small farm rate.
The policy of granting heavily subsidized rates of $49 per acre-foot to a special interest group of customers while residential users pay $829 per acre-foot costs the EID $1.1 million in revenue that has to be made up by other ratepayers.
Why should the EID board single out small farms for special rate treatment? Why not restaurants, which are saddled with EID bills 15-20 times what small farmers pay EID? Or perhaps hair salons? Why should residential ratepayers pay 17 times more for the same water than small farms that generate as little as $1,000 in sales per year, which is hardly a viable business?
EID is engaging in industrial planning politics that picks winners and losers to satisfy the lifestyle of a few hundred people at the expense of thousands of others. This definitely is not the American way of free markets.
So, in the middle of a major drought, EID is asking residential users to scale back consumption yet encouraging a select few of very small farms to use as much water as they want because it’s virtually free. It’s time to fix this inequity and get on with the job of dealing with the drought.
El Dorado Hills