In the California drought, “Water Pirates” are now an actual thing.

Water Pirates

We’re rascals and scoundrels, we’re villians and knaves.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
We’re devils and black sheep, we’re really bad eggs.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.


Following up from my previous post about the future of water in California, which focused on the positives that we can achieve as residents in trying to solve the California drought, here’s a post about one of the shameful negatives that’s starting to become more common as California dries out: Water pirates”. An amazing article in yesterday’s Politico by Ann Louise Bardach entitled “Lifestyles of the Rich and Parched: How the Golden State’s 1 percenters are avoiding the drought” almost made me vomit on my laptop.

Put simply, rich people in rich cities like Montecito, CA are taking the groundwater from poor people in poor cities like Carpenteria. And when I say “rich,” I mean very rich. California rich. I’m taking about Oprah, Google’s Eric Shmidt, Directors George Lucas and Ivan Reitman, a partner of Warren Buffet, and others. And when I say “take,” I literally mean hiring container trucks to show up in poor cities, take the water, and haul it back to newly built private wells and lakes on their property. These water trucks, both driven and paid for by what can only be called water pirates, are terrible — if you’re not a billionaire.

“These days, tankers can be seen barreling down Montecito’s narrow country roads day and night, ferrying up to 5,000 gallons of H20 to some of the world’s richest and thirstiest folks.”

For what purpose is the water being used? Totally irresponsible property irrigation — at least during this exceptional California drought. I’m not saying that rich people are bad, and I’m not that saying needing water is bad — I’m saying watering multi-acre residential grass lawns, private golf courses, and private polo fields — with the limited potable drinking water of less fortunate communities — should be stopped at minimum until the drought is over.


Oprah Winfrey's 42-acre estate in Montecito, CA. | Wikimedia Commons

Oprah Winfrey’s 42-acre estate in Montecito, CA. | Wikimedia Commons

That doesn’t seem legal, right? Well, it kind of is — if you have the money to pay the fines for doing it.

 “…Bob Hazard, a retired hotel CEO who writes a news column for the Montecito Journal, says he would not be surprised if some of the town’s wealthiest are ‘paying as much as $15,000 a month for trucked-in water. …the Montecito Water District, which is particularly discreet about its patrons, admits it will rake in close to $4 million in fines this year.”

The California drought is bad, and legitimately threatens the ability of anyone to live here in the coming decades. It doesn’t need the added problem of classism, and it definitely doesn’t need the new development of California billionaire water pirates.

– Max


Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.

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