ACWA’s Town Hall meeting on the California Water Action Plan

Panel 1 oblongWith the draft California Water Action Plan expected to be finalized and released later this month, the Plan was a focus at the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) fall convention.  After hearing from Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, Secretary of Environmental Protection Matt Rodriquez who heads Cal-EPA, and Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross, (click here), a town hall was next, featuring Jeff Kightlinger, General Manager of Metropolitan Water District; Mark Cowin, Director of Water Resources; Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board; Chuck Bonham, Director of Department of Fish and Wildlife; and Thad Bettner, General Manager of Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District.  The panel was moderated by Cindy Tuck, Deputy Executive Director of Government Relations for ACWA.

Each panelist began by making some brief remarks about the plan.

Jeff Kightlinger, General Manager of Metropolitan Water District

Kightlinger 1One of the important things I think the state is doing here is putting some things in perspective,” said Jeff Kightlinger, noting that Metropolitan has invested a lot of money in the BDCP and yet it’s only going to address a piece of what the state is doing.   “I have had confusion certainly on our board and everywhere I go, asking where’s the rest of it?  What’s going on with storage? What’s going on with groundwater issues? What’s going on with all these issues and why isn’t BDCP taking care of all of these things?” he said.  “It’s not designed to.  It can’t.  It’s only designed to address one issue and so I think it’s very critical that all that host of other issues out there be captured somewhere … and so I thought this was a very important undertaking that the Brown Administration did to help tie that all together, and now we have to see how we all implement it.”

 

Mark Cowin, Director of the Department of Water Resources

I don’t think this is a matter of what we state agencies are going to implement on our own but what we are collectively going to get done in California,” began Mark Cowin.  “Our focus on Delta issues within the state administration and particularly within the Department of Water Resources the last few years has definitely diluted our message regarding the need for more comprehensive approaches and solutions for California water management issues.  …  so both the administration’s water action plan and ACWA’s plan have given us an opportunity to get back to talking about what those broader solutions are and the policies that need to be in place to make them happen.”

Cowin 1One of the most important aspects of these plans is how much mutual agreement there is on what needs to be done throughout the state, he said.  “I think for me one of the most important aspects of the process of going through developing both of these plans is just how much mutual agreement there really is on the types of things that need to be done throughout the state,” said Mr. Cowin.  “The commonality in the plan regarding the need for regional planning, regional solutions, regional approaches – I think that’s bedrock for what we’re going to do for California water and I’m very happy to see that’s a central part of both plans.  I think it’s extremely important that some common principles for how we go about those regional solutions were emphasized in both plans, including reinforcement of water rights and area of origin statutes and commitment to honor those rights and statutes as we move forward, and essentially agreeing that as we arrive at these regional solutions, no region is going to attain their water supply reliability goals on the backs of another region.”

It’s also important that seeking sustainable water supplies and the linkage between ecosystem health and water supply reliability is noted in both plans, he said.  “I think that’s a big step forward in the way we look at California water from a few decades ago and extremely important to underscore.  I think we need to expand this notion of coequal goals from the Delta to a statewide policy for water supply reliability, so I think that’s an important step forward.”

All of those principles are the guiding light for how we move forward collectively on California water, said Mr. Cowin.  “If we truly commit to those basic principles for how we’re going to go about regional solutions and if we can build some trust around that commitment, then I think it’s much more likely that we can get beyond a stakeholder mentality that ‘I’m going to get mine and good luck with you getting yours.’”

Now I don’t expect that anybody’s going to give up their self-interest or any group or region is going to put aside their concerns that apply to broader needs,” he said, “but I do think if we’re going to make substantial progress, it’s going to take a little shift in mind sets to keeping an eye on one’s own needs while also considering broader public needs and statewide needs in the same moment and trying to balance those concerns.   And I do believe that both of these plans help set up a game plan for accomplishing that.”

Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board

I think sometimes there’s timing in public policy issues,” began Felicia Marcus.  “It’s broader than public policy issues – it’s social issues, and I just think that both plans are a way of putting a framework on corralling, identifying, and listing a conversation whose time has come on a lot issues.  … Part of why I left the field for awhile in the early 2000s after working at EPA was that I was disheartened at the stakeholder mentality and the fact that people stayed in their silo.  … I’ve come back, ten years later, the Delta Council being my first foray, and I can really see a difference; it may not feel that way to those of you who’ve been slogging through the issues but the quality of the conversation has changed.  There are different kinds of issues where people understand that we need to take a much more integrated approach and that things are connected – For example, water quality and water quantity are in fact connected.”

Marcus 1What I like about both of these plans is that they recognize that there’s a regional leadership to be had there, and that means for us, thinking about what the state role is becomes important, and I think what we’ve tried to do is figure out how to put the state in it’s appropriate space,” she said.

I have loved working with this team that seems to have their head screwed on straight about trying to figure out what are the things the state needs to do,” said Ms. Marcus.  “Sometimes it’s being constructive, but also what can we do to figure out how to give the tools and remove barriers and the like so everybody can do what they need to do.  It’s a much more complicated conversation to have, but it’s more reality based because every single region is different. … It’s not just that your groundwater is different, either you have it or you don’t, or it’s porous or it’s not or it’s contaminated or it’s not, but that every local region within a region actually has a different set of needs and a different set of water sources, whether it’s a combination of imported and groundwater or the like, so our solutions are going to be a set of tools.”

It’s imperative that we take an all-of-the-above approach,” she said.  “With climate change and what we now know is the next couple of decades is coming at us like a tsunami in terms of change and loss of snowpack, we all have to be able to talk about conveyance, storage, groundwater, conservation, recycling, stormwater capture, and desal in the appropriate places as opposed to people picking one and fighting because we’re just not going to make it unless we come up with an integrated way of doing all of the above.  We certainly have the ingenuity to do it and so putting it all in one place with the notion of multiple benefits and respect for localities, we begin to have the conversation we should have been having all along and I hope we really can make some substantial progress in the next five years.”

The Plan is a direction from the Governor, but the collegiality and easy working relationship among all the state agencies and departments working on this, as well as the individuals, has really been great, she said.  “You may think you know whose language is somewhere but really we’ve all been over all of it and it’s very much of a group collaboration and that includes the coordination and operational coordination issues that are in there that I know are very important to a lot of you.”

Chuck Bonham, Director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife

I took the assignment in the opening remarks as Chuck, what do you think about the two plans,” began Chuck Bonham.  “And four words help me express how I view them.”

Bonham 1The first word is ‘now’.  So here’s what I mean by that,” he said.  “Water defines California, either because of its scarcity or because of its abundance.  It always has in the past, and it always will in the future.  I would never argue that we could divorce ourselves from our history, where we’ve been, nor would I argue that we should forget about where we are going to go in the future, but we’ve got to deal with the here and now that’s in front of us today.”

The second word that helps me talk about these two plans is a verb, and that verb is ‘is’,” Mr. Bonham continued.  “And for me a verb is about action, and I can say, personally speaking, that working on the plan put forward by the three cabinet secretaries has allowed me to think about those actions we could try to achieve in five years.  All of us have done planning ad nauseum.  I’m interested in what we can do, action-wise.”

And the last two words that help me talk about these plans are ‘the time’,” he said.  “If you’re a fan of the west, and if you been into to literature, you’ve perhaps run across Waldo Stegner; I’m paraphrasing, but he has told us that this, the west, is the native home of hope.  And he’s also told us that in his opinion, we’re the home of hope not because necessarily of our rugged individualism, but rather our ability to come to the common marketplace and sort it out and get it done.  So how I think about these two plans is reflected in those four words, “Now is the time.””

And based on the feedback I’ve seen you offer to us in the administration on our draft, for the most part, everyone appears to agree,” Mr. Bonham concluded.

Thad Bettner, General Manager of the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District

Thaddeus Bettner began by explaining how is district was located about 80 miles north of Sacramento. It’s a rural ag district with some urban areas around them; he has fish, birds, and everything in his system.  “We are kind of a microcosm of the state, so we’re constantly balancing within our district competing needs.”

Bettner 1In March, Thad Bettner said that Tim Quinn came to the board meeting expecting to talk about the water bond, and instead, the Board said,why are you talking to us about a water bond when there’s things going on in the state that we may not have any water?  “They were really starting to say is that so much focus has been on the Delta, what are we doing in the state?” he said.  “What are the things we can do now versus waiting for infrastructure to come online in 10 years?

Mr. Bettner said that he agreed with Secretary Laird that there is an opportunity today that does not come along very often; the last time it was like this where big things went down was the 1994 Bay Delta Accord.  “You look at a lot of the issues that tried to get resolved then, we’re facing them again.”

One option is to just say no to everything, let’s just not, it’s too complicated, it’s too complex, we’re concerned about for Northern California water rights and are you going to violate our water rights,” he said, “or maybe you take a little risk and say maybe we’re better off seeking a broader solution.  Let’s get out of our historic silos that we’ve been in and think a little bit bigger.

Historically we’ve gone through this process of just reallocating water,” said Mr. Bettner.  “We take water from water users and give back to the environment, we take water from the environment and give it to water users, but we’re moving water around and we’re just basically cutting at the pie.  Is there a way we can try to grow the pie and basically be able to get the system that we currently have provide better service to the environment and to water users.”

Mr. Bettner said that the plans were both great and had a lot of good information in them, but we have a lot of plans.  “I’m an engineer; I’m more of a doer, not a talker, and when somebody says it helps to do another plan, I want to bang my head against the wall.  We have enough plans, let’s start doing something with what we have, and I think the plans that are out on the table now start to become what we want to implement going forward.  Let’s not waste that opportunity.”

I think the big thing that’s been missing in a lot of our plans is that we don’t to risk for whatever reason, connecting the dots,” he said.  “As we implement this plan, we need to look at how these things connect, both from a water supply perspective and from the state perspective. If we’re going to put more storage in, how does that connect to conveyance? How does that connect to enhancing ecosystems?  Storage isn’t independent; you have to connect those dots. How does that work with efficiency?  So I think going forward, it’s going to be important that these plans and the components of the plans are connected, the pieces are connected, because, in fact, we have a system, a large water supply system that is connected, and we have an ecosystem that is connected and I think those dots have to be working together in order to maximize the benefits.”

Questions and answers

Cindy Tuck asked the state officials to comment on how they were going to take it to the next step and make assignments and have time frames for the actions and actually get it done in the Governor’s next term.

Obviously it’s a significant effort and it’s awe-inspiring to think of all of the actions that we’ve described in this plan,” responded Mark Cowin.  “I would love to say that we had the infrastructure in place and all the pieces lined up to move quickly into action to realize all of the goals we set out, but that’s just simply not the case.  So we’re going to struggle, and we’re hopefully all going to struggle together as we figure out how to make some of these things happen. …  in my mind, it’s not one master plan but rather it’s a series of smaller actions that we need to plan for that involve different agencies, different groups, different interests, different funding streams, and different types of regulations, so we need to take on a long series of mini projects rather than one master project, in my mind.”

175What I would hope we would do is that we’ll be doing like scorecards for themselves and regular reporting up,” said Ms. Marcus.  “Agencies meet together in a water management policy meeting every month, we’ll keep doing that along with people in the Governor’s office who will keep us on task, and we’ll have to be reporting progress on all of these things.  … My hope is that once we get it done we’ll come up with the most elegant streamlined way to keep us on task and reporting progress without killing ourselves in the scorecard process.”

I should start with an admission of guilt,” said Chuck Bonham.  “I think personally I’m guilty of potentially over-reaching.  This is the first time I’ve served in government so I have had experiences where as an individual or departmentally, we are really striving for something and I find that it takes longer than I was anticipating.  … Our department sees ourselves frankly throughout the twelve pages, but principally chapter 4, which is protect and restore ecosystems.  I view that page and a half as a workplan where each of the respective bullets will need an implementation schedule, a milestone and benchmark ability to check performance … I take it darn seriously that three cabinet secretaries and the Governor may sign off on the final, and I believe these are my marching orders and I better now screw it up.”

Question from the audience: How do each of you plan on trying to convince the public and the nice people who are lining up to file lawsuits to try and stop what you want to do, that this isn’t going to run into mega, mega costs … we have a large group of very vocal people who think that this thing is going to bankrupt the state.  How do you convince all these nice people that it’s feasible and necessary?

155“I believe that if we can truly get buy-in to some of the principles for moving forward, we will reduce the risk of litigation,” said Mark Cowin.  “We won’t eliminate it but we can deal with some of that agitation if we can put our actions in the appropriate context and give credible assurance to parties that we’re not going to impact their interests for the sake of other’s interests.  Easy to say, hard to do, but that’s a real goal.”

I would say the cost of inaction would cost a lot more in the long run and there is a case to be made, either in terms of water security if you’re talking about the Delta or even in terms of figuring out how to do integrated water management at the local level,” said Ms. Marcus.  “I think what we’re acknowledging is there are a lot of things that are actually already happening at the local level and trying to figure out how to be supportive.  One of the things we’ve gotten the most positive feedback about is our acknowledgement that Proposition 218 is harming local government’s ability to raise the money they want to raise to do things locally that are closer to home. …

You raise costs and litigation as really legitimate observations or concerns, and those two things for me relate to trust,” said Chuck Bonham.  “It’s really hard to trust each other across a variety of sectors in California about water.  Always has been.  And I think its incumbent upon us as public servants to spend time just like we are right now, with our constituents talking through these issues on the promise of trying to establish a relationship that goes to trust.  The second thing I’ll say is when it comes to costs, a thing on my mind is this idea of modernization.  … I have found that in many smaller communities, there are a lot of folks that bought property and inherited old infrastructure and for whatever reason, they may tend to try and divert all at once in the summer when the flow is the lowest in the stream which sparks a conflict with species needs.  There is a tradeoff that can be made under the principle of modernization.  What if, subject to all law and appropriate review and avoiding unintended consequences, you could build an off-stream storage pond, collect some percentage of flow in the higher winter flow events, not change the amount of diversion, but just shift the time of diversion and place in storage in exchange for getting off everyone trying to divert the same two weeks in July.  That’s modernization.  That’s multiple benefits, and my beliefs and my experience practicing as a water lawyer is that it’s going to save you money in the long run.”

Question: I’d like you to expand on the subject of water transfers … how are you as public officials going to provide the leadership to ensure that the decisions made on a day to day basis are constantly advancing rather than thwarting the very laudable goals that are presented in the plan?

172I think for us, this is all tacked on the bathroom mirror every morning, these are the top priorities,” said Ms. Marcus.  “In the context of transfers … we just prioritized them, but this is where our rules catch us, you can’t transfer water unless you can show you really have a right to that water at that time at that place, and that is cumbersome in our system.  We have to validate that before you can do a transfer, and I think we’ve gotten good marks for moving things since the Governor told us to speed up …  it’s a high priority for me as the policy head of the agency …. ”

Water transfers are an issue that transcends a five year action plan, it’s here and now,” said Mark Cowin.  “Second to BDCP are the number of calls I am getting on transfers … it’s an issue that’s central with the Department of Water Resources.  There are different aspects of this, one very important one is the rules for determining what rights you have to transfer water and what are the losses associated with transferring the water.  There’s no quick solution to that tangled issue because it is different for every particular water transfer but we are endeavoring to come up with general rules that can be applied more frequently in order to essentially guide the marketplace in a more straightforward way.  … we are attempting to stick to my first rule of government which is to evolve slowly, don’t make any radical changes if you don’t’ have to, so we’re going to try and stick with the rules we’ve got and modify them over time as we learn more and we have more collaboration with both buyers and sellers.  Beyond that, there are the difficult concerns about the red tape and the process and of course ESA and CEQA compliance that we’ll have to deal with as well, but we’ll need to solve each of those problems one at a time, but as it definitely has my attention.”

173Chuck Bonham said he agreed that transfers are all different, and that they face multiple hurdles.  “Your question to me really goes to something really not about water; it’s about business management.  My department is almost 3000 people … The business management challenges I feel and deal with really can weigh down, but I believe you are right that success on these plans requires management commitment.  As an individual leader, I am willing to help my senior leadership understand expectations and goals, and I am willing to put myself in front of our field staff for these kinds of conversations, and our leadership is willing to establish a two-way communications stream where we delegate authority for implementation within the boundaries of those expectations and goals so we cultivate ingenuity and innovativeness out in our fields and somehow it’s all synced up in a way it never has been before.  Are we there? No.  Can we always do that better? Yes.  But I just think that’s part of figuring out how to run a good business.  And success on these plans is going to relate back to that concept.”

Thad Bettner said that they did a transfer last year, and the costs and paperwork to comply with the state regulatory process was more than the costs to do the environmental compliance.  “Our environmental document was about 150 pages and all the paperwork we provided to the state agencies was in excess of 300 pages so $100,000 – it’s crazy, and we were frustrated.  I must say Mark got a lot of phone calls, he’s right, and he’s tried to correct some things on his staff; same thing with Felicia, we’ve been working with her and very receptive to hearing our complaints.  … I think we’ve had a good response from the agency leadership here, but one thing to keep in mind about transfers is it’s not the panacea of solutions for the state.  I think we need to make sure that it is one component that we can continue to utilize, but again we do need bigger infrastructure fixes in the state.  We’re going to be looking at long-term fixes to balancing water supply and the ecosystem, there’s just no way around it, and if I think if we think transfers is the solution, we’re kicking ourselves.”

Question: If you look at what they are talking about as far as climate change and population growth in California, it seems like we’re really focused like a laser to the issues of today, or maybe last year.  With climate change and population growth in the future, is what we’re going to be doing today going to be viable down the road? I’m really wondering if you have the ability to look forward as closely as you are looking backward.

138I think climate change is actually driving a lot of what’s in this plan,” said Ms. Marcus.  “People are talking about things that weren’t talked about before.  I’ll give you one example of that in my conversational world across the spectrum of people in government …  there is talk about the notion of a loss of snowpack over the next couple of decades and every time we get the news, it sounds even worse.  … it has put an even bigger point on the groundwater conversation across urban and ag in terms of distributed storage, because we’re going to lose half of the storage in the state.  …  I think it’s alarming to think about losing that much storage and so the answer becomes either lots of off-stream, lots of small storage, not just big projects.  Big projects are important too, but having regions think about every which way they can sock water away when the water comes, in the ground or above ground, and I think it’s created a much greater understanding of the importance of groundwater. … We’re doing a lot of recycled water and stormwater capture in Southern California … I think we can still do a lot more but we have to have some place to put it.  That puts a spotlight on all these Superfund sites I used to deal with when I was at EPA that are still there 20 years later, and figuring out how do we come up with new models in dealing with those contaminated groundwater basins. … There’s a massive amount of work in imbued in one paragraph in that plan that is directly tied to resilience and preparing for climate change.

I believe that climate change is the biggest game changer in California water management in my career, and it drives almost everything in this plan,” said Mark Cowin.  “It’s moved us from the mentality of trying to match supplies to demands to risk management … we know that risks are increasing and translating that to a public debate with an appropriate level of concern about the investment needed in water resources is the fundamental issue that we all face.”

You say climate change, I say ‘freaked out’ at our Department,” said Chuck Bonham.  “California’s the number one state in the nation in biodiversity, so we have more flora, fauna and diversity than any other state in the union.  And we’re also number one in the nation in the loss of biodiversity.  … But we can do projects today that are good for water supply and species.” He gave the example of a floodplain restoration project that provides flood control and benefits for fish.  “So a physical project such as reconnecting the river to a floodplain that is done respectful of public safety and in conjunction with the landowner can produce multiple benefits, one of which those being adaptation for future climate change effects on species.  We can do more of this.  It’s just about finding the right people, the right projects, and the right resources.”

Jeff Kightlinger said that Metropolitan has done a lot to prepare for climate change that was really triggered by the water rationing in Southern California that occurred during the 1989-90 drought.  “We were unprepared for a couple of things with our growing population and one is that we didn’t have storage in southern California.  We had virtually no storage in 1990; today Metropolitan can store about 5 million acre-feet but it’s come at a cost.  We’ve put about $3 billion in to that over the last two decades, but we can now store a lot of water.  Second thing we did was we built a lot of infrastructure to move water into storage.  We built a $2 billion reservoir and we built a $1 billion pipe.  It took a little explaining to our Board, that this billion dollar pipe, the Inland Feeder that feeds the reservoir, is basically going to sit empty half the time, if not most of the time.  So why did we built it at 1000 cfs instead of 300 cfs?  Because when 2011 came and our reservoir was half empty, we had a wet year and we refilled the reservoir in about 7 or 8 months.  Before that pipe was online, it took us 4 years to fill it.  That’s the world we’re going to live in where we’re going to have to capture water really fast … That’s the world we need to be planning for.”

124Cindy Tuck asked Felicia Marcus to comment about moving the drinking water program from the Department of Public Health to the State Water Resources Control Board.

Ms. Marcus said that it has become her top priority.  “We take it very seriously, because it’s drinking water.  … Municipal drinking water is always the highest beneficial use, it’s the one that is more equal than others and when we’re engaging in our work, we’ve always taken the DPH judgments on those thing because that’s been their expertise.”  The move is going to make the State Water Board one-third bigger and necessitate a third chief deputy with a public health background.   “So we have water quality, we have water rights, and we have drinking water.  It allows us then to have some synergies on some very important issues that have a commonality, such as the State Revolving Fund. … It will also help us integrate the work we are doing on recycled water that we both do.  It won’t sacrifice any protection for public health but we would have one entity responsible for water from source to tap.  … With all the contaminated groundwater issues that we’re dealing with around the state, if the State Water Board had been responsible for drinking water, do you think we would have started acting on that sooner?  I think we would have.  I think we would have paid more attention to it, frankly, if we were responsible for the whole thing, so there’s a synergy you can get by putting those two together. … We have a lot of respect for how challenging this is and the expertise, and all the good things we’ve heard about the Department of Public Health, so there’s nothing to disparage them and we are going to respect them and keep all the elements of the program that everybody really likes …”

Question: We’ve heard this is a unique opportunity and there is commitment to work together.  Define “now is the time”.  Does it last 30 days, 30 months?  What do the panelists think need to happen on their watch to bring the solutions to the problem together?

I personally think ‘now is the time’ should include in the immediate next year greater resolution on  a solution for the Delta and finalization of the statewide actions that are now out in draft so that the respective governmental entities by the end of 2014 can report progress on things within that state plan,” said Chuck Bonham.  “And by five years from now, we have started or completed a majority of the stuff in whatever final plan there is.”

I think now is the time means we’re not going to wait for the state to fix our problems or think that the state can fix our problems, I think we have to work together,” said Mr. Bettner.  “We’re not expecting they’re going to be able to come up with all the solutions, and frankly they don’t’ have the people to see what we’re seeing.  So we’re going to work with them and try and say, is our solution one we can work together on, so we’re working on that now and we’re not waiting for completion of any restoration plans, we’re not waiting for here’s the five-year salmon restoration goals out of NMFS or FWS; we need to start doing stuff now because we need to do all we can to try and get the species numbers back up.”

Thad noted that the State Water Board is working on updating the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan and potential new Delta standards.  “We can either be victims or we can help point the board and their staff in different ways to go about it, say here’s some different ways we could try and work with you.  We’re trying to work with Felicia and her staff on the Sacramento River and see if there are ways we can reoperate, are there ways we can take other actions to look at solutions that provide some of the requirements or some of the things that the State Board is looking at in terms of their Delta proceedings and that includes fisheries.  We have to do that now, we cannot wait.”

Thad said that they are addressing water storage by forming a local JPA and paying to have work done to move the Sites Reservoir project forward.  “We’re doing things on our own that just Mark and his staff don’t have time to do, but if we waited, it may not get done.  Is there a way that we can fit that type of infrastructure into a larger statewide plan that benefits water supply and the environment?  We can’t wait.  From a local agency standpoint, we all have to be local agencies, take control of some of these things and not expect these folks to fix all our problems. …”

123I don’t take it as any sign of defeat or failure on the part of state agencies that we’re not going to solve all the problems,” said Mark Cowin.  “We’ve laid out our plan, we’ve talked about the way we think the stars are aligned right now that we can take advantage of this administration through broad agreement through ACWA agencies on the types of things we ought to be doing.  None of this is going to happen unless you all join us and help us make it happen, so please, keep putting that message out there.”

Jeff Kightlinger acknowledged that the issues and the conflicts can seem hopeless at times, but he pointed to the Colorado River as an example.  “We spent 40 years in court fighting with Arizona over every single issue we could think of on the Colorado River, and starting in 2000, that changed.  The last 14 years have been very dry on the Colorado River and it’s been a little scary out there, and in the last decade, we have entered into half a dozen major agreements among the states, Mexico, amongst ourselves in California, we’re sharing water, Arizona, Nevada and Metropolitan have been co-funding projects, we’re working with Imperial to do water conservation projects in Mexico after battling with each other, and we are working on storing Southern Nevada water as we speak – 70,000 acre-feet this year, so it can be done.  This decade of cooperation followed 50 years of battling.  Now is the time, and with the state water action plan, maybe we’ll do that in California for a change.”

“I think it will take 5 years to do a lot of these things.  Some of these things are actions you can do tomorrow, others are starting a conversation, there are certain types of things, but I think if we’re not somewhere in about two years where we’ve made some major decisions and got things on a different trajectory then I think we’ll lose momentum,” said Ms. Marcus.

Cindy Tuck said that the three secretaries who spoke at the lunch were impressive.  “To me it was also symbolic because it really showed the commitment of the administration that these agencies are working together.  That was a really positive statement, seeing them all there together.  And then when I look at this panel, I also think it’s symbolic because we have two water managers, one from the north, one from the south, and then we have the three officials who are really going to implement the plan on the ground, and if we all work together, our chance of success is so much higher.”

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