Water transfer requires government approval. And the government does not approve it. For example, in 2022, 337,564 AF1 was requested and 0 AF was granted.
Given that politicians talk about reducing water waste, wouldn't it make sense to approve transfers? If a water owner wants to sell his water, doesn't that mean that he found someone else that can generate more economic value from his water than the water owner can on his own property? Isn't it wasteful to force the water owner to use the water on his own property?
Given the huge economic costs (billions in lost tax revenues as residents leave the state) caused by high retail prices ($8K/AF including "penalties") for urban beautification projects, why is a farmer who generates $1K/AF of value not allowed to help address the economic issue by selling his water? And how could the farmer possibly be happy about not being able to sell his water for greater profit?
Is the political climate that there are just too many people or too much economic activity in California? If not, why wouldn't water transfers be approved? Clearly the transportation infrastructure can handle deliveries, since it was done in previous years (and now usage is cut back due to extreme conservation measures).
Or are conservationists opposing water transfers? But then how does transferring water from a rice farmer to a city affect the amount of water delivered to nature preserves? Neither the rice farm nor the city is a nature preserve. Transferring water from one entity that's not a nature preserve to another entity that's not a nature preserve doesn't affect how much water gets to the nature preserve.
1 - AF is an acronym for acre-foot, a unit of volume commonly used in the US for water resources. It equals approximately 1233 m3 (cubic metres).