Posted on | October 7, 2009 | 4 Comments
DOES Matt Damon’s H2O Africa help water management in developing countries? Todd Jarvis, Associate Director of the Institute for Water and Watersheds at Oregon State University, has doubts. “I just wonder how many of his movie dollars are going to go to solving water problems, and how much is going to get soaked up by corruption.”
WaterWired has Jarvis’s autumn lecture on water and ethics,”Fuzzy lines and phantasmagorias,” posted. To access it, click here. Jarvis’s message to up and coming hydro-geologists: “I have been unethical. Everyone is unethical sometimes … As a professional, you will be on that line. You will walk that line many times.”
Citing the World Bank, he said that while Scandinavia leads the world in non-corrupt practices, the US is “not too far away from Italy with respect to corruption.” This offered a natural segue to look at the $500 billion expected to flow in stimulus money for US water infrastructure repair. “Let’s say the corruption is only one per cent. Is that pocket change?”
Over in the Los Angeles Times this morning, two Sacramento reporters write that California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been holding the legislature hostage with threats of mass vetos unless he gets water bills to his desk addressing problems facing the troubled Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. This is a not-so-recent double down on a previous threat that he would veto any water bills without billions of dollars worth of pet dam projects. Will he get the bills? A better question might be: Does he really want them? What better way to force the federal government to intervene than to prove California incapable of governing itself?
Is holding 700 unrelated bills and the future of the state’s water supply hostage for a pet infrastructure project ethical? Can the World Bank and Oregon State University’s Todd Jarvis possibly be right? Are we really as incorruptible as Italy?