[env-trinity] Sacramento Bee 8/27/10
bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Aug 30 11:11:09 PDT 2010
Water management shake-up urged by Little Hoover panel
By Matt Weiser
The state's Little Hoover Commission on Thursday proposed a shake-up in how
California manages its water, calling today's "confusing water governance"
ineffective for both water efficiency and environmental protection.
The commission spent nearly 18 months probing various agencies and laws that
govern California water. An independent oversight agency, its 13 members are
appointed by the governor and Legislature.
Likely the thorniest of its three main recommendations is to divest the
State Water Project from the Department of Water Resources. The project
delivers water to 25 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland via
reservoirs and canals.
The project is funded independently from fees paid by contractors who have
an ongoing thirst for more water. Yet DWR also must plan the fair
distribution of water and award grants for that purpose.
"You've got sort of a mission conflict, if you will, and I think it creates
mistrust about the motives of the department," said Daniel Hancock,
The commission proposes a new California Water Authority to manage the State
Water Project like an independent utility. Its members would represent both
water users and those with a stake in the environment, and would be
appointed by the governor and approved by the Senate.
The authority would also insulate the water project from state budget
problems that threaten to drain engineering and maintenance talent essential
to operating a complicated water system, Hancock said.
Laura King-Moon, assistant general manager of the State Water Contractors,
supports the concept but wants "a close look" at how the authority board
would be composed.
"It sounds like this is moving in a positive direction, and definitely
opening up a discussion we need to have," she said.
DWR spokesman Matt Notley had no comment because the department is still
reviewing the report.
The commission also proposes to combine water rights oversight functions,
which now reside among several state agencies, into a new Department of
Water Management. The current fragmented approach makes it difficult to know
who is abusing water supplies and then take action.
Finally, the existing California Water Commission should assume oversight of
grant-funded water projects, to ensure that spending serves the state's
long-term water needs.
The commission has no authority to carry out the proposals. Action by the
Legislature and governor would be required.
Byron Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 land/fax
415 519 4810 mobile
<mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net
<mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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