But they also have been criticized for their role in growing nut-tree crops in California’s Central Valley during California’s ongoing drought. Such water-intensive agricultural use can consume more water than all the rest of California.
How is this possible? According to Forbes Magazine: “Their oasis has plenty of water, the result of relentless opportunism that has given their orchards access to more water than nearly any other farm during the worst drought on record in California’s history. The Resnicks farming use at least 120 billion gallons a year, two-thirds on nuts, enough to supply San Francisco’s 852, 000 residents for a decade. They own a majority stake in the Kern Water Bank, one of California’s largest underground water storage facilities, which they got fairly but sagely from the government 20 years ago. It is capable of storing 500 billion gallons of water. They have also spent at least $35 million in recent years buying up more water from nearby districts to replenish their supplies.”
According to a comprehensive profile published yeaserday at Mother Jones the state spent $75 million developing this massive underground storage facility before mysteriously handing it off to Kern County officials, who then gave much of it to Westside Mutual Water Company, a private water supplier owned by the Resnicks.
In 2014, a superior court judge decided that California’s Department of Water Resources hadn’t fully examined the environmental impacts of the water bank, and later ordered the Environmental Impact Review to be resubmitted.
Not only that, but, having also set up a huge network of deep groundwater wells, the Resnicks are water rich enough that they’ve actually been selling the increasingly precious commodity back to the state. So far, they’ve made about $30 million in the process.
Plenty of legal questions are still swirling around the ownership of the Kern Water Bank, and it’s possible that the Resnicks might soon have to cut back like all the rest of us. But amid the uncertainty, they’re still hoping to expand. Turns out, Chinese consumers can’t get enough of those California pistachios, says the la.curbed.