The CA Legislature Unveiled 5 New Water Bills -- Are They Good or Bad News for the State's Water Woes?
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Water Number: 5. This week the California Legislature unveiled five (5) new major water bills: three Senate Bills and two Assembly Bills. These are BIG and important bills. I applaud the Legislature and the Governor for trying to institute substantive and comprehensive changes in the way the State deals with water.
The bills are:
Think about them.
Talk about them.
But hold your fire. (Do I think this will happen? No. But I can dream, can't I?)
Given the volatile nature of water in California, the large scope and complexity of these bills, and the short period of time they've been out, I would urge that California's water warriors hold their opinions until they actually read and digest them.
There is a lot in these bills: creation of a new, potentially powerful water institution (a Delta Stewardship Council); an effort to strengthen an existing water institution (the State Water Resources Control Board); a requirement that water conservation be pursued more aggressively in both the urban and agricultural areas; a call for evaluating new infrastructure (including, yes, some kind of Peripheral Canal); creation of a Science Board; establishment of a standardized water use data collection and reporting system; establishment of a user fee for Delta water users; a call for monitoring of groundwater levels.
These are BIG issues. Obviously the devil is in the details and the wording, and we don't know what will happen in the coming politically messy negotiations and arguments in the Capitol. But as I have said before: doing nothing is not an option, unless whatever we do makes things worse. And posturing right now will make things worse.
Dr. Peter Gleick is president of the Pacific Institute, an internationally recognized water expert and a MacArthur Fellow.