Felicia Marcus: California Water: Where We Are, and Where We Ought to Go

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Each year, the Environmental Law Section of the California State Bar holds their annual conference at the Tenaya Lodge at the outskirts of Yosemite National Park.  The Saturday sessions kicked off with Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, as the keynote speaker.  During her speech, she talked about the drought, the priorities of the State Water Board, the California Water Action Plan – and beer.  Here’s what she had to say:

Felicia Marcus began by acknowledging her old friends and mentors in the room. “My first jobs, my first lawyers, my first clients, all here in one room,” she said.

Felicia Marcus 2It’s interesting to come from the vantage point as someone who has sat in a lot of different chairs, now sitting in a chair I once criticized vigorously,” she said. “I won’t tell you what I used to say about the water board, but I want to assure you that having had that humbling repeat experience of having my karma overcome my dogma, and having to put myself where my mouth was is that I apologize for all those things I said [laughter] – at least in later years, because the water board that I experienced when I got there two years ago is very different from the one I used to criticize in the 90s. There were people there who had the same feeling about what needed to happen at the water board, so it’s been a sheer joy, but I have to say it’s amazing to continue to have these humbling experiences through my life. If there are some guardian angels out there for me, they definitely have a sense of humor. You’d think I’d learn to be more careful about who I criticize.”

We’re at this period of paradigm shift. Not to overstate it, but it’s always an uncomfortable period. As in Thomas Kuhn’s Record of Scientific Revolutions, he says as things are changing, people become very uncomfortable, and it becomes very messy. The old order is somehow changing yet you see these brilliant strides forward and strides backward. We’re just in a difficult time and the drought exacerbates it.”

“I’d like to make clear that I’m not speaking for the water board,” she said. “We’re a five member board, and we only make decisions out in public together. Sometimes now after two years I can guess what they think, and I’m pretty good at it, but these are definitely just my views. I’m not speaking as an expert, by any means, or even as an attorney today. More of an expert generalist, given my background.”

Yosemite 5.5Ms. Marcus said she would start her talk by first discussing the current setting. “I’ve found it striking how many people who work in water and may have worked in water for decades know a piece of it really, really well,” she said. “You would think they would have accreted more of a sense of the other pieces, and it may well be that people have more of the sense of the whole then they do because they are advocating for a given position, but I think sometimes people don’t know, and people have found it helpful, so I’m going to do that.”

She said she would also give an updated on the drought. “We are in a drought of historic proportions and it would be wrong not to assess what we’re doing,” she said. “I’ll talk a bit about where we need to go more generally, and then some closing thoughts on what we need to do get there, meaning not just what work we need to do on the ground but what we need to do ourselves internally. I’m not here to be your therapist, but I am more of an environmental therapist than anything else, and I’ve been fairly successful with that approach, I’ll say.

There are certain things that are sort of critical when you’re thinking about California water,” she said. “This notion of having the most variable hydrology is really true. It is the most variable in the country, and when we say variable, we mean sometimes it rains a lot, and other times it really doesn’t. It’s not predictable. It’s interesting.”

Recently, every couple of years, someone discovers the over-allocation of water rights in California, because there are more water rights numerically on paper than we get water in an average year,” she said. “There is no average year. Sometimes we get the average year, but many times we have more water than we know what to do with. All of the West tends to be based on a seniority system because of it. Junior water rights holders should know, when there’s not as much water, they don’t get it. Now there are problems with the system, I’m not going defend the system, but as a concept, we know that the water is highly variable and we can’t predict from year to year what will happen.”

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]”We can’t talk simplistically about ag and urban … as if ag is somehow bad. They are growing food and fiber for this state, for the country and the world, and I think that’s an amazing thing.”[/pullquote]

It also varies from location to location, it doesn’t fall where most of it used. It doesn’t fall where the heaviest population is and it doesn’t fall during the time of year that it’s most used, during the late spring and through the summer,” said Ms. Marcus. “We’ve got a problem we need to figure out how to deal with and we’ve dealt with to a certain extent over the last century or so.”

Every area has a completely different mix of water sources, she pointed out. “Sometimes even block to block, let alone to community to community or water district to water district. Some are lucky enough to have multiple sources, whether it’s surface water they can draw on and have rights to, contract rights to the amazing federal and state water projects or other projects, or they’ve built their own projects to bring imported water from somewhere else. Some of them are lucky enough to have groundwater; some are not lucky enough to have groundwater and have none, so every location has a different mix, so the impact of the drought in particular varies greatly.”

Some have been able to diversify because of their vulnerability, others for whatever reason have not,” she said. “They haven’t hit by a drought of this magnitude and many of the places that we’re going and helping are in that hassle, because they don’t’ have drought as frequently, but when they do, it’s a doozy. They haven’t had it frequently enough to build off-stream storage or do other things like recycling and stormwater; they don’t have the population base to do it, and then there’s the mix of water rights, and so the impacts of drought vary greatly, even neighbor to neighbor because they may have a different mix of water rights and they may have done different preparation, so it makes it highly complicated.”

The solution for each community is a mix, she said. “It’s not just a mix of solutions like finding more water, it’s a mix of solutions of recycling, conservation, stormwater capture, desal in some cases – it just really depends, and it require us to look at this whole tool kit of sources and devices that people can use. It really does call on us to use integrated water management which is a movement that’s grown in the last decade which started with some very farsighted visionaries and some bond measures to dangle money in front of the disparate organizations in a given location that touch water.

On top of the mix of water sources, there is a complex mix of institutions that touch water, she said. “Whether it’s flood control or bringing in water supply, treating water, wastewater capture, stormwater capture, groundwater replenishment districts – there are a myriad of agencies … there are 7000 of all sizes, private, public, of all kinds, and then you add to that, flood control districts and specialized stormwater districts, you name it – it is a very complex mixThis variability suggests that we have to think and talk about storage differently than we have,” she said, noting that storage means big, small, above ground and below ground.

We’ve got to get serious about it versus just talking louder and slower past each other for decades,” she said. “It helps to have left the field for a decade and come back in. … I see some of the same people who have been working on it for decades saying exactly the same thing, looking exactly the same way even … same clothes, same energy, same rhetoric, a little grayer – that’s about it. Story only slightly different. The players in this have not changed that much, and it pains me. … Yet I do see spots of incredible change and optimism, with integrated water management being the beginning of something different.”

This drought is the worst in impact, said Ms. Marcus. “You can argue about some measures that say it is the worst in recorded history, but again remember, we as westerners, have only been recording for 100+ years,” she said. “If you back and talk to tribes, or you look at tree ring records, we’ve had far longer and worse droughts in history, so they are a part of our future as well. So while it’s the third worst in precipitation by some measures; it’s the worst in impact because since ’77, ’we have millions more people, and we have more agricultural production dependent on every drop of water.

Ag has become far more efficient,” she said. “It hasn’t dumped the water back into the stream for fish, unless through voluntary agreements, but it’s a miracle of food productivity and fiber productivity that is a marvel and something to be proud of. At the same time, we have far more endangered and threatened species than we did in ’77 and they just don’t have the resilience to weather the storm.”

Yosemite 2There is tremendous annual variability, as well as a seasonal mistmatch, she said. “That’s why in the middle of the last century, we built these huge projects, and individual entities built these projects. Always, as a Southern Californian, I always like to point out that EBMUD and San Francisco have their own systems that divert from the Delta; they just divert above the Delta. They like to be superior to Southern California who diverts through the Delta, and Southern California and Central Valley to be sure have some issues, but they divert about the same amount as Southern California, it’s just that they divert it in a different way. I’m not making a judgment there, I’m just saying … “

Los Angeles has the Owens Valley Aqueduct and the Metropolitan Water District brings in Colorado River and Delta water, she noted, also pointing out that Metropolitan spent $3.5 billion building Diamond Valley Lake. “They built that after the last big drought in ’77 and that’s precisely why during this drought early in the year, they were touting the fact they were in better shape than Northern California because they had invested all of those ratepayers dollars. We went a little bit nuts with alarm because saying we have one to two years in storage when we know that the Australian drought just recently lasted a decade made us nervous and prompted a fair amount of action. I’m not just picking on Met, they weren’t the only ones.”

Climate change is a future driver, and loss of snowpack is a huge deal. “When we talk about storage, people tend to talk about the big projects. Storage is also a myriad of small off-stream and on-stream storage, but a lot of small off-stream reservoirs increasingly that we’re trying to help to help with timing for folks along really important salmon streams, so that that they’re not all pulling it for frost protection or for irrigation at the same time so they dewater streams. Storage has its place; it’s not a dirty word. It has an impact so you need to think about it and be careful, but nearly half of the storage to deal with that variable hydrology is snowpack. It’s where the precipitation falls as snow and then melts out slowly during the spring and the fall to replenish reservoirs or replenish surface water. People seem to forget about that.”

The climate change projects are that more precipitation is going to fall as rain and earlier in the year, so not only will the snowpack be low, but it will be a big flood control job, too, she said. “We’re not going to have that snowpack, so not only are our reservoirs low, the snowpack is low, so if you’re trying to deal with reality in a clear-eyed way, it’s going to take us decades to retrofit ourselves.

We have to think differently today about what we do to face the future,” said Ms. Marcus. “We do need to think about the issues of food security. We take it for granted. Some of the rhetoric about ag versus environment or urban versus ag, make me crazy because the water content in the food that urbans eat is huge. … Everything you eat takes a lot of water and so we can’t talk simplistically about ag and urban … as if ag is somehow bad. They are growing food and fiber for this state, for the country and the world, and I think that’s an amazing thing. I’m not saying there’s not more ag can do – of course there is, but the rhetoric should be more grounded in reality and a recognition of the value of what people do, and I mean that for all.”

Food security is going to become a huge issue for the world,” she said. “We’re one of only five Mediterranean climates that can grow healthy fruits and vegetables and we should honor that, even as we are clear and hardline and fair and demanding of agriculture to do their part, both in terms of pollutants and in terms of water use, so I’m just saying there.”

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]”Over the decades, we do have to think about sea level rise because we’re going to have more salt water intrusion and there’s no way we’re going to have enough water storage to repel it like we can today and we’re going to have to think differently about that.”[/pullquote]

She then referenced the book, March of Folly, by Barbara Tuckman. “It’s this phenomenal book that I recommend to you,” said Ms. Marcus. “She’s a great historian and she picks a series of things in history: King George losing the colonies, the Vietnam war issues, a number of others where people in authority and power have all the facts at their disposal to solve a problem that was facing them or coming at them and they somehow ignored them by staying in their comfortable, rhetorical silos, by fearing change, by listening to advisors who have more to gain in the short term from the status quo, and they really, really blew it. And we just need to make sure we don’t blow it. We need to be thinking forward and looking at the present through the lens of what our future holds, for better or for worse, and what we can do about it, versus looking at today through the lens of the past and stubbornly sticking to it, and that’s really my whole point today.”

Ms. Marcus reminded that it was Benjamin Franklin who said, ‘When the well is dry, we’ll know the worth of water.’ “This is where we are today in many parts of the valley – not all parts of the Valley because again some people have groundwater, some people have multiple water rights, some people are senior project water rights holders.”

It was frightening at the beginning of this year in January where we had snowpack being a fraction of average or normal,” she said. “Our reservoirs were low because we had an unusual precipitation pattern where people were concerned about flooding like the year before so they a lot of water go. Again, you never know. Floods cause devastation, too, and so you’re trying to manage your system.”

The impacts are for worse than any words can say. “It’s 400,000+ acres fallowed, and far more with diminished yield because of using less water or because of using groundwater which has constituents in it that aren’t as good for certain plants,” she said. “People have made all kinds of decisions, but it’s tremendous, but even with that and all those people out of work, groundwater levels are dropping precipitously because people are pumping groundwater. If they weren’t pumping groundwater, the impact would be 5 to 10 times worse, and we would be seeing social and economic dislocation on a massive scale.”

It’s heartbreaking that communities all around the state have been running out of drinking water, she said. “We’ve been running to the rescue with OES and our drinking water program, and with legislatively-given emergency dollars, we’re been running pipe, drilling wells, delivering tankers filled with water, providing bottled water. There are people bathing out of buckets in communities all across the state. This is why it was hard at times as we were going out as a drought task force and more people were going out as part of their work, to see folks in Southern California talking about how they were fine, yay us, and watering their lawns with wild abandon …

The fish and wildlife impacts across the board are tremendous; that story is told occasionally,” she said. “There have been fish rescues. There are temperatures that are just too hot for survival, and we may lose whole runs of salmon and countless others. We have no idea how many of them made it out. Some of them were challenged because [the State Water Board’s] Executive Director cut the flows in order to try and save water, because we were trying to save water for later in the year for temperature and to maintain salinity control in the Delta.

It’s a really frightening situation where because of the drought, fish and wildlife will be in pain, but also because of the tensions between different water users,” she said. “Then of course, wildfire, which is always the largest economic impact; we’ve seen at least a third more fires started earlier and devastating impacts to all kinds of people and critters, etc, and even more when the rains finally do come.”

There are a number of things the Governor did to make dealing with the drought easier, she said. “There is a lot of water disaster relief we have delivered in this joint federal-state effort, over 200,000 boxes of food particularly in Tulare basin, and we’ve been delivering water all over the state. Good news is there has been amazing state-federal coordination. We’ve had our burps and some of you witness them, but I’ve never seen it as good. In the 90s, most of my time was spent being a border collie between federal and state agencies and it’s been much better, really, even though we’ve had moments where we wanted to strangle each other or we had hard-fought battles.”

A real time operations team has been created comprised of the fish agencies, the projects, and water board staff,” Ms. Marcus said. “It made some folks in the field very nervous. Be careful what you wish for. I’m not sure why they were so nervous, but they were nervous, in some ways because they couldn’t pick us apart, different stakeholders, and people really stretched.

The temporary flow adjustments are very complicated, she said. “Our water quality standards are implemented through conditions on water right permits and there is a provision for an executive director to change it,” she said. “We recently affirmed the decisions that he made, but put more conditions on the projects to have to be more transparent, to report in front of us, to do the planning in advance, which they are involved in doing right now. It was a group effort where folks were attacked on both sides by their traditional stakeholder side, not evilly but understandably because they were disappointed.”

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]“I challenge you and I invite you to join us in this effort.  Help us navigate our water supply and ecosystem and drinking water and water quality issues; help us solve problems and take some action. It might be imperfect, but it’s not going to be stasis.”[/pullquote]

She said the adjustments were a way to move through this crisis together because those conditions were set for a critically dry period, not insanely dry period and there would have been all kinds of consequences, not just to water users but really to the environment, she said. She acknowledged that the contract water allocation cutbacks by the state and federal projects were significant, and the water rights implementation curtailments that were implemented were painful as well. The state is trying to help by adding money for the Integrated Regional Water Management program, and the State Board has been working to streamline and speed the recycled water, particularly to ag, she said.

The greatest amount of public attention has been to water conservation regulations that the State Board did, the first in the nation at a statewide level,” she said. “It’s generally done at the local level, but we weren’t seeing action at the local level that we wanted to see, particularly urban California – not just because we’re all in this together which we are and should be, not just because it would allow for some flexibility in the system where those in urban areas could be a little more gracious towards others, but also real water security in case we have an Australian-type multi-year drought. Having one to two years in storage and feeling good about it is playing Russian roulette with Mother Nature. It is not a good idea, so every drop saved now is valuable.

Ms. Marcus said they are already planning for a dry 2015. “It’s frightening,” she acknowledged. “We’ve directed that it be a 99% exceedance, 90% exceedance, and 50% exceedance, so that basically means let’s assume that it’s totally going to be dry, there’s a 90% chance it’s going to be dry, or a 50/50 scenario, and that’s in process because of Australia, so we’re meeting regularly.

We’ve got to have a sense of where we’re going and looking at the future; the other is we have to get beyond the theoretical, which people in the water world love,” she said. “They cling to it, they’re good at it. ‘That rhetoric was really hard to develop and damn, I am proud of it, so I’m just going to keep repeating it, louder and slower until you agree with me. This is also called, why Dianne Feinstein hates some people. [laughter] And also though why I tend to be a fan of the real, the practical in practice.”

Ms. Marcus said she went searching on the internet for someone who talked about truth, and came up with this quote from Abraham Lincoln: ‘I am a firm believer in the people, if given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them real facts – and beer.’ “True, apparently,” she said. “So I thought, what did John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, even Ronald Reagan, what did they have to say about beer? It’s not that I had too much time on my hands, I was just in a mood … but I didn’t find anything, but I did get this from Martin Luther: ‘Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep long, does not sin. Whoever does not sin, enters heaven. Thus, let us drink beer.’ [laughter] True? I don’t know, but that’s the power of the internet.

So here’s reality,” she said, presenting a map showing projected sea level rise for the Bay Area. She noted that the turquoise color represents a 16” sea level rise predicted for the middle of this century; dark blue is a 55” rise. “So in San Francisco Bay, we’re in for a rough ride in some of our lifetimes. … There’s much made in the BDCP about the earthquake scenario; I say low probability-high risk. Over the decades, we do have to think about sea level rise because we’re going to have more salt water intrusion and there’s no way we’re going to have enough water storage to repel it like we can today and we’re going to have to think differently about that. Just bear in mind.”

Another reality is that there are contaminated well systems all over the state. “It is shocking in the year 2014. It’s true, and it’s a reality we need to deal with,” Ms. Marcus said, noting that in the past, she was amazed at how few activists there were in safe drinking water. “Happily that has changed; there is a whole bunch of new environmental justice and community groups and the next generation who’ve been focusing on drinking water … this really is the issue of our generation and shame on us if we don’t figure it out.”

So what do we do about it? “As an administration, we came out about a year ago with the water action plan … It wasn’t really a plan, but it’s a promise and it’s an important promise on the part of this administration that we are going to deal with issues and take action … this is what we are going to work on and bust our butts on over the seceding five years. … We were going for the long ball here. And what it is is a promise of stuff we’re going to do and really focus on, not just to fix problems today but to lay a foundation for a sustainable water future because it’s going to take decades to do it.

She then outlined some of the key points of the plan:

  1. Conservation is first and foremost as a California way of life, and that’s straight from the Governor.
  2. Dealing with regional self reliance and integrating.
  3. Dealing with the Delta, both ecosystem restoration and conveyance, with respect for all the players, including the Delta.
  4. Protect and restore important ecosystems.  “It’s getting ahead of the curve as well as doing the restorative work.
  5. Prepare for drought.”We’re focusing on preparing ahead for next year.
  6. Expanding water storage capacity above and below, big and small with a great focus on groundwater management. “Those basins are the only thing that are of the total size that can possibly compare with the loss of snowpack, so there is a state interest in helping locals manage it as a place you can store and use water in drought. You can’t do that unless you manage it, and we’ve already had success there.”
  7. Deal with safe drinking water for communities. “That has not been a priority as far as I know before now. It’s been vetoed, it’s been ignored, so a huge signature effort on the part of the administration, activists and legislators.”
  8. Increasing flood protection “Because we know it will rain again.”
  9. Dealing with operational and regulatory efficiency and flexibility: “That’s voluntary agreements, that’s thinking about multiple benefit use, that’s thinking about using scarce local dollars to get multiple benefits rather than just following each of our water supply or water quality things in silos.”
  10. Funding: “Prop 218, of course, comes to mind.”

The drafting of the California Water Action Plan was a team effort, as was the water bond, said Ms. Marcus. “The Governor demanded that in order to give it his support, it needed to be smaller and it needed to be strategic, and if it was going to be a bond, it needed to lay a foundation for the future versus being the usual grab bag,” she said. “Frankly because it’s always called the Safe Water Act, he wanted it to have safe drinking water in it, and that’s the first time that we’ve had real money for safe drinking water in something that said that it was for safe drinking water. I’m just saying, I worked on some of those bonds …

Yosemite 8Ms. Marcus then discussed the State Water Board’s priorities. “The drought is the most important thing on the water rights side,” she said. “On the human side, it’s figuring out how to move from big source permitting and our usual tools to dealing with diverse sources which are just the externalities of socially productive uses like agriculture or all the myriad of things that go into stormwater – it requires us to really think differently. Integrating the safe drinking water program is the most important thing we can do, and there’s a lot to it, but we’re going a lot of things that are innovative on both sides.

We’re just trying to finally get some decisions done because we do have a reputation for being slow and for being timid,” she said. “We’re going to be modest; we’re not going to be wild people, but we are taking our responsibilities seriously with a very, very small staff that we have, but we are choosing action over stasis.”

Getting there is going to mean getting over ourselves, she said. “I’m not naieve. I’m not saying there aren’t conflicts out there and real differences and things to fight over, but we need to pay more attention to making things happen differently if we’re going to avoid the March of Folly and waste our own true set of talents. We need to see our connections and our agreement places, that sweet spot, and not just our differences.”

I challenge you and I invite you to join us in this effort,” she said. “Help us navigate our water supply and ecosystem and drinking water and water quality issues; help us solve problems and take some action. It might be imperfect, but it’s not going to be stasis. Let’s deal with reality and not the comfort of our rhetoric.”

Twenty-one years ago at this conference, I sat at the back of the room in the morning and I mis-heard Doug Wheeler when he said, ‘ecosystem’,” Ms. Marcus recalled. “I thought he said ‘egosystem’, and I sat in the back of the room, chuckling to myself as I frequently do, and I thought, ‘wow, what a brilliant concept!’ And then I realized that’s not what he said, but I thought that’s great, and I wove it into my talk, and thus began about a decade of giving talks on the challenge of egosystem management. It does mean managing ourselves as well as paper and issues and politics, and managing ourselves in our interactions with each other in the world. It’s about being a winner of the context that we’re in, about being open to what’s happening in a given room and in the world, and most important, about choosing to be a part of helping to get things done, rather than playing a role that may be comfortable, but doesn’t help get those things done.

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]”It’s about being a winner of the context that we’re in, about being open to what’s happening in a given room and in the world, and most important, about choosing to be a part of helping to get things done, rather than playing a role that may be comfortable, but doesn’t help get those things done.”[/pullquote]

Admitting that it might be perilous in front of a room full of lawyers, she nonetheless said, “I am amazed that attorneys in particular – but not just attorneys – seem to make in front of us. One of the great things about the water board is in many cases, our job isn’t to pick winners and losers. I can’t go in one day and say, ‘you’re right, I’m going to give all the fish and screw over agriculture and urban, because I like you better and you made a good argument.’ I can’t say ‘I’m going to screw the fish and give it all to ag,’ but you would think that I could from the way people argue – either arguing in extreme or throwing up chaff at the legitimate points of other people.

I was always taught that good advocates understood the context in which the decision maker was working and help them do their job and find that balance,” she said. “The best advocates acknowledge the legitimate interests of others. They make an argument for preference to their point of view, but they help the decision maker come to a place of integrity within the context. … People come to us in a way that I think is appropriate if you’re trying to be a criminal defense lawyer and sow reasonable doubt, but that’s not what we do in public policy circles, so I implore you to work together as Californians to make the strong case but work with us.”

Fortunately, there are many grounds for optimism, she said. “We have a myriad individual acts of transcending individual silos,” she said. “I’ve seen this coming back in, and just as I have been frustrated at the things that are the same, I’ve seen things that have made my heart sing. To say that IRWM makes my heart sing probably makes you think I’m a total nerdling, but it’s really important on an epic scale and it’s going to take decades to make it work.

Through the drought, there have been angels who have made all kinds of choices – helping their neighbors, running pipe,” she said. “Tribes and nonprofits came together to help the town of Montague in Siskiyou County, which was no friend to the non-profit or the tribe, prior to then. Fish and farmer win-wins, all up and down, usually in small cases, working on these small offstream storage things, and allowing us to move water rights to allow that to happen while protecting the water rights system. The Sacramento Valley rice farmers who voluntarily planted their crops a month later, knowing they would get 20% reduction in yield so they could share the same drop of water with fish for temperature. It hasn’t worked out as well as we’d have liked, but it was really cool gesture and a noble one.”

Felicia in roomThere have been legislative agreements, such as the 2009 Delta Reform Act. “The legislation coalition of the willing was a big step forward and many of you were really leaders in that and had the arrows in your back from your own side for it,” she said. “The human right to water finally passed, that’s made a tremendous difference. We’re still trying to implement it but people are going to look back on that as a historic achievement. The groundwater legislation passed … that is a signature human achievement, even though there’s a long way to go to implement it. The water bond, and then of course local leadership that I’ve talked about that’s incredible, and the water action plan.”

Martin Luther King said that the arc of history is long but it bends towards justice,” Ms. Marcus said. “Robert Kennedy talks about how each action for people and towards the future sends out a ripple of hope that combined with others, is the only thing that changes the world, so I encourage you to play your part and to join with us in what will be a very bumpy road – with lurches and zig zags and false starts. But we have to choose to face the future and think differently and think together about how to make it or we won’t. We will have a state with tragic economic, social, and environmental dislocation and it doesn’t have to be that way, so join us on this. I look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead.

This one's a keeper ...
This one’s a keeper!

Special note:  A big thank you to Roger Moore and the Environmental Law Section of the California State Bar for the invitation to speak on their media panel at the conference. I felt so honored!  I had a great time hanging out with the lawyers, and at the same time picked up some interesting panels to cover.  Look for upcoming coverage of a panel discussing HCPs and NCCPs and the pitfalls of endangered species management, as well as a panel on the new groundwater legislation, coming soon exclusively on Maven’s Notebook!

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