National Geographic and water lobbyists release advertorial


Editor's note: David Zetland, a Western water economist, offers an insider's perspective into water politics and economics. We will be cross-posting occasional posts and content from his blog, Aguanomics, here on the Range.

A few weeks ago, water blogger aquadoc mentioned that the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) was co-publishing a magazine with the National Geographic called "Water for Tomorrow." The Doc asks if this is more puff piece than reporting.*

ACWA, btw, is the industry lobbying association based in Sacramento and headed by Tim Quinn, former chief economist (etc.) at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Yes, indeed, it is an advertorial:
  • Jennifer Persike, ACWA's Director of Strategic Coordination & Public Affairs, is in charge of the effort. (ACWA has more people working for communications than any other function.)
  • ACWA members pay the costs of production ($0.59/each for 1,000 copies delivered [pdf]), so they can give it away, free, to people who need to know they are doing a good job.
  • According to ACWA: "the 20-page, four-color magazine provides Californians with fresh and practical information on the state’s water system, ongoing water supply challenges and the need to use water as efficiently as possible... Produced under a cost-effective agreement with National Geographic Custom Publishing, Water for Tomorrow is available for ACWA member agencies to subscribe to and distribute to their customers at an extremely affordable cost."
  • How much is "affordable"? $5,900 per 1,000 copies,which they then send to people for free. Customers pay for the junkmail that water managers send them.
  • According to NG: "Even a prosperous place like California shouldn’t take its water supply for granted. National Geographic’s continuing mission is to inspire people to care about the planet, and we’re extremely proud to partner with ACWA in creating this timely publication.” "National Geographic Custom Publishing" has also rented its name and logo for others' corporate PR.

Bottom Line:

ACWA members should stop wasting customers' money telling them about how wonderful they are. They should do their jobs (fixing leaks, ensuring quality, preventing shortages) instead. Teapartiers should attack this waste of money: ACWA's deadline for new subscriptions was 17 Dec. It's not too late to get your money back and keep these magazines out of landfills.

* His post links back to Lloyd Carter as source for a Ron Kaye post and Jeff Michael's early comment

on this "magazine," which is "published exclusively for ACWA by: Onward Publishing, Inc. in partnership with National Geographic."

Originally posted at Aguanomics.

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