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How Much Is Water Worth? Why A Billionaire-Owned Stake In A California Water Bank Could Be Worth More Than $1 Billion

For more than three decades Forbes reporters have tracked the fortunes of the richest people on the planet: putting dollar figures to their business empires, their one-of-a-kind art, their private islands and more. 

Now, in a new series called “Priceless,” we’re taking you behind the scenes to show you how we determine the value of the most unique assets owned by members of The Forbes 400. To watch the rest of the series go here.

How much is access to water worth? In this episode, we aim to answer that question by looking at the Kern Water Bank, one of California’s largest underground water storage facilities. From above, it looks a lot like a giant puddle. But underneath it has the capacity to hold the equivalent of roughly 500 of New York City’s Central Park Reservoirs. And, as one expert says, it’s the “absolute jewel” of California water banking. 

It’s also part-owned by Stewart and Lynda Resnick, the billionaire couple behind fruit and nut giant Wonderful Co., which makes everything from Halos mandarins to POM Wonderful juice. As California and the western U.S. sinks deeper into a 20-year megadrought, Forbes estimates that the Resnicks’ 57% stake in the water bank could be worth $1.7 billion—and counting.

For more on this topic, read these stories:

Amid Drought, Billionaires Control A Critical California Water Bank

America’s Nuttiest Billionaire Couple: Amid Drought, Stewart And Lynda Resnick Are Richer Than Ever

Staff writer at Forbes. Email me at mtindera@forbes.com and follow me on Twitter @mtindera07.

Chloe Sorvino leads coverage of food and agriculture at Forbes. Her seven years of reporting at Forbes has brought her to In-N-Out Burger’s secret test kitchen,

Chloe Sorvino leads coverage of food and agriculture at Forbes. Her seven years of reporting at Forbes has brought her to In-N-Out Burger’s secret test kitchen, drought-ridden farms in California’s Central Valley, burnt-out national forests logged by a timber billionaire, a century-old slaughterhouse in Omaha, and even a chocolate croissant factory designed like a medieval castle in Northern France. She manages a team of 50+ expert contributors, along with the 30 Under 30 Food and Drink list and the Forbes Ag Tech Summits. Her book on the fight for the future of meat is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books in 2022. 

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