NEWS WORTH NOTING: New report calls for transforming California water governance to meet social and ecological needs; 100s of California irrigators work with The Freshwater Trust to tackle new water measurement law; Cindy Messer appointed chief deputy director at the DWR
New Report Calls for Transforming California Water Governance to Meet Social and Ecological Needs
From Stanford University and Earth Law Center:
To date, state officials have assiduously avoided the kind of comprehensive management of water resources that is necessary to prioritize basic human needs and safeguard natural systems for future generations of Californians. But as the Sierra snowpack predictably diminishes and periodic droughts worsen in both magnitude and duration with the changing climate, California stands at a crossroad. We can either continue business as usual, leading inexorably to ever-greater user inequities and the almost-certain collapse of our remaining aquatic ecosystems. Or we can chart a different course for the twenty-first century, one that arises from the values embedded in contemporary notions of the public trust and our responsibilities as stewards of water. This paper argues for the latter path.
In this paper, we outline the state’s current water management and allocation strategies and display how these fail to meet current needs. In particular, we analyze in detail why water markets – the state’s current idealized solution to our water woes – will further entrench our dysfunctional water uses, directing water toward the most profitable use, rather than toward the most socially and ecologically beneficial use. We then argue that in order to holistically transform our water governance to meet social and ecological demands, we need to embrace a new water ethic in which the special nature of water as life-giving and undeniably public, rather than private and for-profit, is recognized.
Consistent with this water ethic, we present alternative water strategies and next steps, including broadening the suite of voices and disciplines active in setting the water vision and strategies for the state. We recommend applying vastly under-utilized legal tools, such as the waste and unreasonable use and public trust doctrines; developing and prioritizing instream water rights, to ensure that waterways’ needs are addressed; gathering data on surface flows, groundwater levels, and water withdrawals and uses; enforcing water use rights violations, including direct penalties for violating water right permits and streamlined action on violations of the waste and unreasonable use doctrine; and increasing agricultural and urban water efficiency while reducing demand, so that efficiency savings are not simply translated into more use. These reforms, implemented from the ground up with broad public participation, will help the state more effectively manage scarce water resources for the benefit of humans and ecosystems alike.
Hundreds of California irrigators work with The Freshwater Trust to tackle new water measurement law
From The Freshwater Trust:
More than 200 farmers and water users in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are working with The Freshwater Trust (TFT) to help them fulfill the reporting obligations of a new statewide bill to track water use.
Passed in 2015, Senate Bill 88 made it mandatory for those diverting more than 10-acre feet of water per year to install calibrated meters by January 1, 2018. An acre-foot, or one acre covered by one foot of water, is the amount of water used by one or two five-member families in a year.
Working with the Delta Watermaster, TFT developed an alternative approach irrigators in the region can use to meet the requirements of the law.
Instead of installing meters that are often unreliable, irrigators will be able to meet the requirement of the new law by working with TFT to combine real crop and water management data with state of the art models and remote sensing technology to create a more accurate picture of actual water use.
Cindy Messer appointed chief deputy director at the Department of Water Resources
From the Office of the Governor:
Cindy Messer, 48, of Sacramento, has been appointed chief deputy director at the California Department of Water Resources, where she has served as assistant chief deputy director since 2016. She was deputy director of the Planning, Performance and Technology Division at the Delta Stewardship Council from 2012 to 2016 and assistant executive officer at the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy from 2010 to 2012. Messer served in several positions in the Division of Environmental Services at the California Department of Water Resources from 1999 to 2010 including senior environmental scientist, environmental program manager, section chief and environmental scientist. She earned a Master of Science degree in conservation biology from California State University, Sacramento. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $162,948. Messer is a Democrat.
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About News Worth Noting: News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations. News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms. If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.