We need a market price for water. Then people could decide the relative value of products and projects. Maybe almonds would be a good deal; maybe not, but we would not need lots of debate among people who did not have particular expertise to know.
Prices are wonderful things for all the information they contain. I spent years in Eastern Europe after the collapse of communism and learned a few things about what finally killed the benighted system. Communism collapsed for lot of reasons, but a big one – not often noticed – was their lack of price information. Planners just could not figure out relative values, so they wasted resources, creating shortages of things that could have been plentiful. We distribute water much like the Soviets distributed bread, and we get similar problems with misapplication and shortage.
Reference – http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/04/california-almond-orchard-defy-critics-continue-expanding