Harvard Buys Up Water Rights in Parched Southern California Wine Country

Staff Writer
Harvard has quietly become one of the biggest grape-growers in the region
Harvard Buys Up Water Rights in Parched Southern California Wine Country

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Will Harvard’s wine investment cause further problems in a region stricken by water shortages?

Did you know that Harvard University is now one of the largest grape-growers in Southern California’s wine country? Neither did we. But according to Reuters, the Harvard University endowment fund has allocated $60 million to purchase about 10,000 acres of land in the Paso Robles wine region since 2012, making it one of the top 20 investors in the region. Brodiaea, Inc., wholly owned by the Harvard Management Fund, has also secured the purchase of water well-drilling permits, just days before a law was to go into effect that would ban new pumping, due to the effects of the severe drought California has been experiencing over the past year.

“It remains to be seen what commitment they have to the business of agriculture," Susan Harvey of environmental advocacy group North County Watch told Reuters. "Is Harvard going to keep pumping ground water, or cut back on returns to protect water quality and quantity?"

Since Brodiaea, Inc. began buying land in wine country, the company has acquired rights to drill 16 water wells of between 700 and 900 feet deep, two or three times deeper than the average residential well. This could be potentially dangerous for residents, because, according to North County Watch, the enormous water-draw could affect residential wells up to a mile away.

The Daily Meal is waiting for comment from Harvard University, but the Harvard Management Company declined to comment to Reuters. 

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