If you had a magic wand that could give you unlimited funding, could change any law, write any new law, and/or modify any regulation, what would you do to improve California’s water?
That was the question posed to panelists at the 2020 Kern County Water Summit. Seated on the panel was Dr. Jerry Meral, Director of the California Water Program at the National Heritage Institute; Randy Fiorini, Vice Chair of the Delta Stewardship Council; Tim Quinn, former Executive Director of the Association of California Water Agencies; and Felicia Marcus, former Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board.
Here’s what they had to say.
DR. JERRY MERAL
Dr. Jerry Meral is the Director of the California Water Program at the National Heritage Institute. He previously served as Deputy Director of DWR and Deputy Secretary of California Natural Resources Agency. Dr. Meral focused his comments on the impacts of climate change on the Kern County water supply.
“The magic wand is probably more like a magic tunnel boring machine that I want to encourage you to adopt and make it work better,” he said.
Kern County’s water supply is reliant on Northern California; about 38% of the water supply of Kern County comes from the Delta one way or another, either directly through the State Water Project or through exchange via the Friant-Kern Canal.
“36% of the water comes from groundwater and that’s probably going to decrease as SGMA takes hold, so the importance of the two fractions coming from the Delta is simply going to increase over time,” Dr. Meral said. “It’s even imaginable that half of the water supply for Kern County will come from the Delta especially as climate change influences the runoff from the Kern River.”
At this point, he briefly diverted to Antarctica and the Thwaites glacier, which is like a cork in the Antarctic ice sheet that is blocking the flow into the southern ocean. “It’s melting and rather rapidly,” he said. “That water going underneath the glacier is quite warm for Antarctica and it’s melting the glacier. It alone would trigger an almost 2 foot rise in sea level, just that one glacier. … The Thwaites glacier is as large as Florida, so if it melts or when it melts, we’re going to see a major impact on sea level throughout the world. Remember, this is only one of many examples of melting glaciers, Greenland, and Antarctic ice sheet and so on that are happening all at the same time.”
The Ocean Protection Council is in charge of maintaining the health of the ocean as much as possible along California’s coast and beaches, and they are the official agency that will predicts the impact of sea level rise and issues guidance for state and local agencies in California. In 2018, they issued updated sea level rise guidance that found that sea levels could rise anywhere from 3 feet to 10 feet by the year 2100.
“Now every time the Ocean Protection Council has issued a report, these numbers have gotten worse, and if you drew a graph, you’d see them going higher and higher and that’s kind of what we expect as science informs us as to what’s happening with climate change,” he said. “But what are the implications of this?”
Using a website called “Surging Seas” which allows users to map risk for sea level rise under various scenarios, he presented maps of the Delta with 3 feet and 10 feet of sea level rise.
“Some islands could probably be fixed up to survive a 3 foot rise, especially those protected by Corps of Engineers levees, and it might be possible to stave off this disaster for awhile,” Dr. Meral said. “But with a ten foot rise in sea level, if you live in the Pocket area of Sacramento, you’ll have wonderful ocean-front property. And unfortunately, the ocean will be quite a bit higher than your house. Under these scenarios, even a three foot rise and certainly a ten foot rise, there is no way to move water across the Delta. It simply can’t be done. The Delta will be a saline body. It might be freshened at times if we have big storms, but basically it will be one of the world’s largest inland bays.”
With 40-50% of Kern County’s water supply being stymied by the intrusion of the ocean into the Delta, and it’s not a matter of if this will happen, but when, he said.
“So the ‘magic tunnel boring machine’ needs to come into play,” he said.
Dr. Meral said there were things that need to be done with respect to the new Delta Conveyance Project: First, there might need to be an upstream intake, perhaps as far north as the Feather River, because the intakes won’t work with in the heart of the Delta if the Delta is entirely salt water, he said. Second, the tunnel should be as big as possible because it’s going to have to carry the water supplies for the state and federal water projects without any real additions from the San Joaquin River, he said, pointing out that the San Joaquin River provides a lot of water for the exports, but that will probably not be true in the future, unless somehow it’s diverted well upstream of Vernalis.
“So I would encourage you to use your magic wands to get your water districts to communicate with the Governor, with the Kern County Water Agency and others, to make sure this project is as large as possible, gets done as soon as possible, and is prepared to divert water from as far north as the Feather River by the end of the century,” said Dr. Meral.
Randy Fiorini is a Cal Poly graduate, farmer from Turlock, and vice chair of the Delta Stewardship Council.
“I have served on the Delta Stewardship Council, a state agency that was created to protect the Delta and ensure a more reliable water supply for California,” began Randy Fiorini. “Many people have described my job description as impossible, and so this magic wand that I have been given to help solve problems comes in real handy. Unfortunately, the reality of the last ten years serving on the Delta Stewardship Council would suggest it’s going to take more than a magic wand.”
Sea level rise is certainly a consideration; Mr. Fiorini said that when the Delta Stewardship Council was asked to create a management plan to improve water supply reliability for the state and ecosystem conditions in the Delta into the year 2100, the sea level rise they were given to use for planning purposes was 55”. He acknowledged that the latest sea level guidance is more than double that, so sea level rise will certainly be a threat.
The ability to continue to move water from the Delta to the San Joaquin Valley is going to depend on improved conveyance. The Delta Stewardship Council is on record promoting options for improved conveyance, storage, and the operations of both; they have developed a lot of the specifics for an underground conveyance portion to coincide with the current ways of conveying water to the pumps in the south, he said.
“The magic wand would deal with the permitting issues that are required to fire up the big boring machine to get the job done,” Mr. Fiorini said. “Under the Brown Administration, a plan came to the Delta Stewardship Council called Water Fix. It fell under the covered action authority of the Delta Stewardship Council and it didn’t meet all of the requirements to be consistent with the Delta Plan. So now there is a new effort, a single tunnel, the Delta Conveyance Project that the Newsom administration is working on.”
Before California Water Fix, there was the Bay Delta Conservation Plan that contemplated a suite of activities that including conveyance improvements as well as a number of ecosystem restoration projects. “That suite of projects – again the magic wand, because conveyance only is going to be a hard sell in the Delta,” he said. “Unless you can improve conditions for the fisheries, you are unlikely going to achieve the coequal goals of ecosystem restoration in the Delta and improved conveyance that’s now the requirements of the state.”
More attention needs to be paid to the construction disruption that would occur in the Delta as a result of whatever conveyance improvements, he said. “The folks in the Delta, there’s 500,000 people that live there, there’s 500,000 acres of farmland, and these folks believe that the water conveyance projects that have been proposed thus far are going to disrupt their lives for ten years and likely result in no significant improvements to the Delta. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed.”
“As my term at the Stewardship Council is nearing the end, I think relationship building is really key to finding solutions,” Mr. Fiorini said. “The folks in the Delta feel threatened by the needs of the exporters in the San Joaquin Valley. So later this month, with the help of some of your colleagues, I’m putting together a conference with a half a dozen agricultural leaders in the Delta, and a half a dozen agricultural leaders in the San Joaquin Valley to begin a conversation about hopes and fears.”
“There is a significant alignment in the hopes and fears of both here in the San Joaquin Valley and in the Delta, but the two regions seldom meet,” he continued. “In the Delta, it’s a religion to oppose a water conveyance fix, to oppose the tunnels. They feel threatened by export demands, so my hope, and this will be another magic wand moment, is that if we’ve can have a conversation among leaders of both regions and begin to seek solutions that meet both the regions’ needs, we may see some chance for improvements over what we’ve experienced in the last ten to fifteen years.”
Tim Quinn began by saying he wasn’t going to focus on what needs to be built as he spent a whole career doing a lot of that. Instead, he will focus on governance and the process of how decisions are made as that’s at least as important as the decisions that come out at the end.
Certainly one of the challenges is how to connect atmospheric rivers to the groundwater basins. “As you have heard, you don’t have enough local water in Kern County to do enough replenishment to avoid very substantial reductions in agricultural productivity, so I like the big thinking that’s going on with the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint,” he said. “The water in atmospheric rivers is mostly up in the Bay Delta watershed, and one of the challenges we have is can we find a way that’s acceptable to everybody to link those two things up. The way we do that is to use a collaborative governance model, include people from the beginning, don’t think you can do this from your silo.”
“In my 40 year career, the most powerful lesson I learned was collaboration works, conflict doesn’t, especially for complicated, controversial things like California water issues,” he said.
Mr. Quinn said he started to learn the lesson of collaboration right here in Kern County. He began working at the Metropolitan Water District in December of 1985. In that same December, the Arvin Edison Water Storage District sent a delegation to visit Metropolitan to propose an outside-of-the-box idea: an ag-urban partnership storing water in Kern County.
“It seemed like such a good idea to us,” he said. “Guess what. Everybody else in the San Joaquin Valley hated this idea. I didn’t realize it then, but I think they thought I was going to be the marauding warrior from the 800 lb guerilla in the south, having our way and despoiling things up here in the San Joaquin Valley. In fact, I had been invited up and I had no intention of being a warrior; I’ve never been a warrior except when I’ve had to, which is rare, but I’m a collaborator.”
He said he learned more about collaboration in those storage agreements then you could possibly imagine. Metropolitan now has partnerships with three agencies in Kern County now, but they were hard fought, taking ten years from conception to implementation.
“Our attitude and our motto was, ‘you’re my adversary today, but you’re my ally tomorrow; how are we going to make that happen?’, and it wasn’t easy,” he said. “The Friant Water Authority was especially concerned because Arvin is a federal contractor, and that’s why it was more controversial than the Semitropic Water Storage District which is a state contractor. The Friant Water Authority was 24-1 against the Arvin-Met partnership. I left more meetings battered and bruised then you could possibly imagine, but we did a truly collaborative process. We sat down especially with the people who were opposed to us.”
“We asked the Friant folks, why don’t you like this project? The chairman of Friant Water Authority at the time pulled a list out of his pocket a list and said there are six reasons, and he read them to us. We said, we couldn’t agree more, so how do we solve those problems? Not much longer after that, maybe six months later, they went from 24-1 against to 24-1 for, and we were able to move the project forward. We did that by sitting down with people, even those that were our adversaries or opponents, listening to them carefully, then adjusting our program consistent with our core policy objectives, but we changed these storage programs a lot over the course of when they were first conceived to when we started putting water in and out in 1997 for Arvin and a little before that in Semitropic.”
The end result was impressive, said Mr. Quinn, pointing out that during the drought from 2012 to 2016, Metropolitan had 430,000 acre-feet of additional supply for its urban customer base, as well as the growers in the districts also had significantly improved supplies because they were using and getting value out of that infrastructure investment just as Metropolitan was.
The notion of collaboration is a thread that has run through his 40 year career. He gave examples such as a 1990 urban water conservation agreement that shaped urban conservation for the next 30 years, the 1991 drought water bank, the Bay Delta Accord in 1994, and the Monterey Amendment, which he acknowledged is not loved by all environmentalists, but the State Water Contractors were going to go to war in a courtroom, and instead they negotiated a settlement.
“Legislatively, I would put SGMA under the heading of substantial successes in California that came through a collaborative open-door process,” Mr. Quinn said. “A lot of you farmers weren’t for it when it passed, but your lawyers and your water managers were a very active part of that process because as the head of ACWA, I insisted that they be at the negotiating table and that we learned from their positions. They put amendments in and all of those amendments were incorporated because they made sense, and they were the ones that knew most about these local circumstances. When the political firestorm hit, they had to run for cover, but I think SGMA is going to work because it came from a collaborative process.”
“The point here is that collaboration works and conflict doesn’t work,” he continued. “You can throw the other side under the bus, and all you will do is spend a lot of time trying to throw people under the bus and never solving your core problem.”
Mr. Quinn said he was impressed with the presentations on the San Joaquin Valley blueprint, but he is concerned there’s too much thinking going on in silos. “I don’t think you’re talking enough to people like Ann Hayden and The Nature Conservancy. They should be a part of your process, because if you try to develop these big picture ideas in a silo, you’re going to run into opposition down the road.”
With respect to implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, in the ag silo, it’s all replenishment and no pumping restrictions; in the environmental silo, it’s all pumping restrictions but no replenishment.
“That’s a dangerous situation, so to deal with that and to help you succeed, I frankly don’t care how many tunnels there are in the Delta or where new storage goes,” he said. “Right now I want you to focus on what process do we go through to make these decisions, and I’m going to use this wand to make three magical changes.”
Magical change #1: “All of you who are warriors, you’re going to as of today, become collaborationists. You’re going to listen to the other side. Warriors go to battle to win and to defeat the other side. Collaborationists help each other get to the top of the mountain. If you’re thinking you’re going to win the war, you’re not, you’re fooling yourself. Become a collaborationist and work with other interests.”
Magical change #2: “Knock down those silos. Invite the environmentalists to come down here. SGMA has done amazing things in getting people to work together that haven’t been working together before, but you need to raise the bar on that. Get them down here as partners. There are things you want to do that you can’t do without environmental support. You’re not going to get them all … Get the middle as big as possible so you can withstand the attacks that sure to come from the left and the right, but get them down here, get them in a room, treat them like equals and figure out what they need. By the way, they need things that they can only get if you help, so figure out how you can have one program instead of two. You need to start meeting face to face and we’ve lost that in California water.”
Magical change #3: “Stick with it. Theirs is nothing easy about collaboration. You’re going to have to have a bigger tent than many of you would like. You have to be prepared to deal with a lot of angry people and then figure out how to make them less angry. As I told my staff for years at Metropolitan and at ACWA, ‘War is easy, you just agree with the person next to you and throw stones at anyone that doesn’t agree with you, but you don’t accomplish anything. Collaboration is hell. It is hard. It requires you to leave you silo, meet with other people who don’t agree or think like you, find some way to accommodate both interests, and then somebody back in your silo isn’t going to like what you’re doing. It’s hard work but it’s the only way to solve these wicked problems like California water.”
Felicia Marcus began by noting that she took the magic wand idea a little more literally than the others, so don’t see the fanciful nature of this presentation as a diminishment of the seriousness with which she thinks we need to approach this work.
As it turns out, California’s been relatively lucky that last 100 or so years; the state hasn’t experienced the 10-year, 20-year, or 200-year droughts that we know from tree-ring records that have occurred in the past.
“We have had a more or less 3 to 4 year drought cycle for the last 120 or so years we’ve been keeping records,” she said. “Well Australia did too, and then they hit their millennial drought that went 10 or 12 years and all hell did break loose and they had to spend billions of dollars on things and do things in a crash course, so we know, even without climate change, we’re going to have a problem.”
With climate change, there is an added problem whereby with a few degrees rise in temperature, there is more flooding in the spring and less snowpack to help us through the summer months when the water is needed for urban and agricultural use.
“We know that our snowpack is 30% of our storage in an average year,” Ms. Marcus said. “Storage and conveyance and storage in snowpack is the reason why modern California exists and why it’s one of the richest agricultural regions in the world in terms of creating healthy fruits and vegetables and other things we rely on, and also the economic and social miracle that is Southern California. If we didn’t have storage in large scale, including the snowpack and the groundwater basins that we’re now trying to figure out how to refill, California would not exist, so there’s a lot at stake and it’s going to get even harder. We have a collective challenge to rise up and face those as Californians. There is a freight train of pain coming at us down the track that we know about and we can see it’s going to get worse, so we need to act.”
There are limitations of looking at recorded history as an indicator of normal conditions. The full geophysical record gives us plenty of indication that it could happen tomorrow, Ms. Marcus said. “Every dry year could be the first dry year of a multi-year drought,” she said. “Every dry year is not a drought but you have to be prepared think more in the long-term than we have. We’re going to have population growth, and I think there’s an increasing recognition that food security across the country and across the world is going to be a problem for our species and so we need to honor agriculture and figure out how to make it work.”
Similarly, there is an increasing recognition of the importance of nature as part of something we’re connected to and something that is important to our survival as a species, she said.
She then gave the list of what she would use her magic wand for:
Magic wand #1: Get politics out of it. Ms. Marcus hearkened to her 30 years of working at the state, local, and federal level. “There are some politicians – not all – some politicians, some lawyers, and some lobbyists that thrive on and profit from distraction, fragmentation, and discord among us, and that has an overlay that keeps all of the incredibly good people out there who just want to solve problems from being able to,” she said. “I cannot tell you how often I have spent time with someone who says, ‘you’ve got to make us do this, just don’t say I told you so’. If I had a dollar for every time that happened, not just in the last six or seven years but in the last 30 years, at the local, state, federal, and even the non-profit level … “
Magic wand #2: Unlimited money and not having to worry about who pays for what would really help, she said. “Beneficiary pays may have seemed like a good idea and I’m not saying everybody should pay for anything, but I think the fights over who pays have gotten in the way of us being able to get things done, so since I have the magic wand and all the money I wanted, I’m going for it.”
Magic wand #3. “I’m not saying that everybody has to be the Dalai Lama or a Buddhist, but if everyone could have compassion for other people and try to figure out those legitimate hopes and fears that people have – the existential terror of the folks in the Delta who feel outmatched and beaten up, the existential terror of farmers who don’t know if they’re going to be able to bring in a crop or the terror of a biologist or an environmentalist who feels like salmon and other species are going to go extinct on their watch and they’ve failed,” Ms. Marcus said. “It’s very powerful and it leads to people feeling like they need to lash out or be extreme or get mad or vilify other people when in fact you can get farther and make progress if you can really understand where the other people are coming from. I wish people could feel compassion for more people and particularly when you’re dealing with people who disagree with you.”
Magic wand #4: “I felt so strongly, I added a puppy for everyone, or a puppy for everybody to play with before a key meeting because puppies bring out that warm fanciful nice side and bring our humanity into every room and every meeting,” she said. “During the Bay Delta Accord negotiations, I would bring in candy or cookies to these meetings because with cookies and candy, people bring their humanity into a room then they do without. I think puppies would be even better, so since I have a magic wand, I would do that, and I would also add that it gives you a little bit more playful and creative ability to solve problems.”
Magic wand #5: A universal translator. “The Chinese have a saying, ‘it’s like chicken talking to the duck’, which means they’re talking but they’re not hearing each other and they’re talking past each other,” she said. “Farmers sometimes talk differently than environmentalists, government to non-government people, engineers to non-engineers. It happens everywhere and it’s a key problem because people are then reacting off of what they think somebody said, but not what the person really said, so you end up with these two bubbles arguing past each other but they’re not actually connecting and talking. So I would use the universal translator so that people could actually understand what people were trying to say.”
As for other magic wand wishes …
Drinking water for all – let’s just do it, Ms. Marcus said. “It’s not that much, when you think about it and we’ve made incredible progress,” she said. “There are tools now in the toolkit at the State Water Board and there’s a funding source to deal with the very real operations and maintenance funding. Thank you to all who worked on that, thank you Governor Newsom for getting it done, whether you love the funding source or not, thank God that happened, but won’t it be great when we can say that we’ve solved that problem. So that has to be number 1.”
Deal with the Delta. “We actually do need shared engagement with the Delta folks and others … they are terrified and vilified and in turn, they will vilify the exporters, the Governor, whoever it is. That’s just silly. Let’s just figure it out. Let’s strengthen their levees now so they’re not scared, let’s do agreements to make sure that if more water gets exported during the really wet times, that they’re not going to be left high and dry during the dry times. Make sure their water is not going to be too saline and that they’re going to be able to farm too. That’s rich farmland. They live there. They feel their communities are at stake and for heaven’s sake, if we build something, let’s not build it in a way that’s going to destroy them and their ability to function for ten years. Does that take a bunch of money? Yes, it takes a bunch of money, but they are part of California too and that should be part of the deal.”
She also said that it’s important to figure out how to do this in a way that people can have faith that it will happen, and how to do all the ecosystem restoration as fast we can versus fighting over who is going to pay it.
Data and technology for all who want it. “I know some people are afraid about sharing their data,” she said. “I totally understand that, but somehow we get around it with the magic wands we have … but if we could get the data that we are way behind other states in having, we could actually start having conversations that are real about how to solve problems versus being able to talk past each other on sort of faith-based conversations about what we heard around the water cooler. Everything I’m talking about, it’s true on all sides. You see it in every camp. Let’s find people that want to get the data, want to figure out how we manage this scarce resource in a more efficient way so we can have it all. Healthy ag, healthy ecosystems, healthy communities. We can do that if we decide to do it.”
We all need to help with the transition of how to get to managed aquifer recharge in the most intelligent way, she said. “We have a big problem, we have to solve it, and we need to give everybody all the help that they need to solve it so everybody’s grandkids can farm, too,” Ms. Marcus said. “It’s about managed aquifer recharge and some of the efforts people are making. This is money, this is data, this is compassion – it’s all of that.”
“While I have the magic wand, lawns,” she said. “I’m not saying everybody should kill their lawn, but they should not be bright green as if they are a Scottish golf course in the middle of August during a drought. So, that’s a lot of water. Over half of urban water use is outdoor ornamental landscaping. You need lawns, you need trees, you need green space – I’m not saying kill them all, but let’s be real about this. A lot of money for rebates. Met and the other Southern California agencies put out over half a billion dollars in rebate money during the drought, snapped up within two weeks of each tranche. People get it now, but it’s expensive to do, so we need to help them.”
Finally, we’re all in this together. “People need to think about it as Californians solving a problem. We need to solve each other’s problems, put ourselves in the shoes of other people and then we can have the more productive conversations that we need to have to make progress,” she said. “Where we make progress isn’t through a governor or great swaths of leadership, it’s really the myriad of decisions we all make every day about how we’re going to interact in a meeting, how we’re going to interact when we meet somebody different than us, how we’re going to ask a question of why you think that way before reacting. It’s the listen to understand versus listening to react. If we can do more of that, and whenever we do, we can solve problems with creativity.”
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Question to Jerry Meral: The range of sea level rise is impressive and it’s frightening. Is that strictly a temperature dependent relationship or are their other factors that contribute to such wide swings in variability?
“There are a variety of factors,” said Dr. Meral. “The most serious factor and the one that makes it hardest to deal with is subsidence in the Delta. I did a tour of the Delta a couple of weeks ago, and it’s quite an experience. You go out there, you’re on a boat, and you’re looking down, down, down into these fields, orchards, duck habitat and so on. The Delta has subsided up to 25-30 feet and that has nothing to do with climate change, it’s just the history of farming in the Delta with very erosive peat soils. It makes it incredibly difficult to protect those islands because the hydrostatic pressure with even small rises not only threatens the Delta levees, some of which are good, some of which are not so good, but increasingly, the water is flowing underneath the island and coming up in the middle. So in the relatively near future, we’re going to have 25,000-50,000 acres of Delta island that are internal lakes and nothing can be done about that. So it’s not just the warming causing the ice to melt and the sea level to rise, the thermal expansion of the ocean causing sea level to rise, but it’s the conditions in the Delta, and really it piles up to be a difficult problem.”
Question: Nobody took on a regulation or a law. If you could tweak, slightly modify, nuance, change, to a law or regulation, what would you tackle?
Randy Fiorini: “Within 30 days of the Delta Plan being adopted, we were sued by 27 different entities. Some accused the Stewardship Council of exercising authority they didn’t have and other threatened to sue because they didn’t think we exercised enough authority. If I could change one thing, I would ask for a moratorium on lawsuits.”
Tim Quinn: “I believe that the answer up in the Delta is careful, efficient functional use of water where it’s needed for the environment combined with massive habitat restoration and a comprehensive program that deals with the whole ecosystem, not just flows because you can regulate that, or just because somebody gave you some money for that. You need to do a comprehensive program. But is has to be credible. One of the big problems right now is there’s some habitat restoration projects in the Delta that I can remember being excited about in the mid-1990s and they still haven’t been implemented. So if was going to pass a magic law, I would start with a magic law that, while I don’t want to pass any laws that make one group think that now we can really go out and defeat the other group, I want to pass laws that quickly implement what they have agreed upon.”
Dr. Jerry Meral: “The law I would like to repeal just for a little bit is the law of general relativity that says that you can’t travel through time. I would like to give everybody here today a chance to see what the Delta looks like in 2090, with your grandchildren at the banks, looking at the problem. Because I don’t think we think in long-term ways enough, and if we could picture ourselves and heirs operating in a system that we know is coming, maybe even before the end of the century, I think we’d act differently today.”
Felicia Marcus: “One of my staff when I was at the EPA said that the problem in the Delta is it all depends upon when you think history begins. So I think you have to look at it on a continuum and figure out how to be realistic. The issue is not using that kind of a vision as a weapon to denigrate either fish or farms because it could work both ways, so I’m a little nervous about that. But what I would do is that I would take regulations, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, a whole bunch of those things, and create a more clear space with more clearly defined parameters that would allow for the acceptance of the agreements that are multi-benefit agreements. … I think if we had a framework in each law that says but the regulator can accept something better if it meets certain requirements, if the results would be better and we wouldn’t have to fight so hard to come up with innovative solutions. I would explicitly put that in every law, if someone comes up with a better way to do this than you can make them do, but it has to be better. Just an agreement for agreement’s sake though, that’s not better.”