Water & Power: A California Heist

Water & Power: A California Heist

In Paso Robles, financiers are buying up vineyards for the unfettered water rights and selling it back to residents. Paso Robles had a vineyard explosion that led to dry wells and drilling over 1,200 feet into ancient aquifers. This is a must see film. A few more drought years and this could be common place to mine the resources that belong to everyone for corporate profit. Vineyards were not watered until 1970. Water means profits and production since watering began has almost doubled tonnage per acre.   

Director Marina Zenovich refers to her new film as “Chinatown,” the documentary. The filmmaker’s latest work “Water & Power: A California Heist” shines the spotlight on modern-day water barons in California’s San Joaquin Valley and the backroom deals that have helped pad their pockets.

Stewart and Lynda Resnick, owners of the Wonderful Company, feature prominently, as does the Kern County Water Bank they partially control, and the Monterey Amendments, which helped make that possible.

In the film, lush orchards are juxtaposed with local residents whose taps have run dry, as the film explores the impacts of California’s drought and the valley’s groundwater crisis. It also zeros in on business interests looking for lucrative groundwater in other parts of the state.

“Water & Power,” produced by Academy Award-winner Alex Gibney, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and has begun airing on the National Geographic Channel in 171 countries.

Journalists at Water Deeply recently spoke with Zenovich, who is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, and Adam Keats, an attorney with the Center for Food Safety, who is featured in the film.

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Marina Zenovich is the director of “Water & Power: A California Heist,” 
a new film airing on the National Geographic Channel. Jeff Vespa/WireImage

A still from the film shows a pipeline allegedly owned by Stewart Resnick 
bringing water from Dudley Ridge to Lost Hills. National Geographic/Ted Gesing