Thursday, January 14, 2010

Water legislation charade

Special Session 7 of the State Legislature was supposed to deal with California's Water problems.  All during the session, the media, both print and TV, kept telling us what the politicians were saying or they were showing us farms that were drying up... but not showing us the farms in the East side of the San Joaquin Valley that got 100% of their water allocation.  The media coverage on this issue would not win even a Columbia Scholastic Press Association award... normally given to High School newspapers.

As we learn more and more, it is not from the media.  Rather, we have to build up our own network of trusted sources who just might get it right. This is what an inquisitive citizen found.

We know that the water legislation was basically written by large water users... Metropolitan Water District and Westlands Irrigation District.  Knowing that, it is easy to see why they did not allow any input from those who live and work in the Delta nor from the legislators that represent them.  All of this was kind of covered by some of the media.  There are even follow up stories on the political ramifications for State Sen. Lois Wolk or the next actions by Assembly member Alyson Huber (though she had to write it herself.)

But, this highly touted legislation is really not worth much.  Consider the requirement to determine the "flow criteria" for maintenance of the Delta.  The initial hearings on this have begun, but it is only a show for the public.  Brian Poulsen of the law firm Somach, Simmons & Dunn provides more news than the media.
In late 2009, the California Legislature passed legislation requiring the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) to develop new flow criteria for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) ecosystem to protect public trust resources.  As an initial step towards complying with this mandate, on January 7, 2010, the State Water Board held a pre-proceeding conference to prepare for and discuss procedural aspects of its upcoming informational proceeding to develop flow criteria for the Delta ecosystem.
OK, so they met on this big project and what did it mean?  Not much.  Poulsen (but not the media) reports what happened.
It is unclear at this time what impact the Proceeding will have on water users since the Proceeding may not ultimately result in numeric flow criteria for the Delta.  Further, and as explained by several Board members, whatever criteria are developed will not be binding in future proceedings.
I don't care how much Assemblyman Jared Huffman puffs about this bill, in the long run, it is a waste of taxpayer money holding hearings on something that is not binding, may or may not be used but boy did we every have a great show. Too bad that Huffman is seen as the progressive leader of the 6tj District.  With Progressives like Huffman, we will soon be back in the 20th Century.  It is too bad that none of the Green office holders in the 6th AD chose to run against him.


Anonymous said...

Your "analysis" is deliberately incomplete and misleading. For example, you omit the fact that your Somach attorney goes on to say, "should the State Water Board develop numeric flow criteria, it is possible that such criteria will inform the State Water Board’s future water quality control plans for the Delta and/or related water rights proceedings. Similarly, any flow criteria will also be used to inform the Bay Delta Conservation Planning process and the ultimate building and/or operation of any future alternative conveyance facility around or through the Delta."

Instead of declaring all of this a failure and attacking those who are trying to help the environment (e.g., Huffman -- who has forgotten more about the Delta than you'll ever know), why don't you get off your Green Party Duff, shake off the "I won't support anything that might work" dogma, and join the environmental groups who are actively fighting for numeric public trust criteria in this State Board proceeding, which would make a big difference.

Wes said...

I now see how you define Environmental Groups. That must be NRDC. Actually I really prefer the positions of Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, Planning and Conservation League, etc. In particular, they sent a very intelligent proposal to Steinberg, Bass and Schwarzenegger... which was promptly ignored.

If you want to honestly debate this, you wouldn't post anonymously anyway. What a wimp. Must be a Huffman staffer.