I should say some things I liked about the Public Water Coalition paper, most of which can be found in their introduction and core principles. (Sadly, when they develop the themes in later sections, they walk them back somewhat, or apply them to the Delta but not themselves.)
Still, they show a real solid grasp of climate change and understand that now is the time to plan and adapt for it. The section on conveyance concedes that fixing the Delta ecosystem is a prerequisite for moving water. Water agencies haven’t always shown such concern. The section on water conservation takes it very seriously, emphasizing the ties between conservation and improved supply reliability. I’ve already said that I love the idea of a real time monitoring system for diversions, and I’d love to have that tied to water rights enforcement. Section (g) introduces the idea of halting illegal diversions in the Delta. That would be a great start, although I can’t see why that should be limited to the Delta.
Something new and promising shows up a couple times in the position paper, where they say that land use agencies have to get involved. This is painfully true, but hasn’t been said much by powerful people. I’m very intrigued that large water agencies have brought it up. (Of course they have brought it up for the Delta and not themselves, but this is the post where I encourage themes I like to see.)
Overall, if this is the new water buffalo dogma, it is a very pragmatic approach, conceding to the realities that Californians want a healthy environment, or at least they are standing behind our environmental laws. I think the reality that the next big source of water is going to be efficiency gains has hit home. In this paper, they don’t dispute climate change. They are dealing with these constraints, which is much better than refusing to admit that they’re real. They call for the enforcement of water rights, which is a decent second place to fixing them. This is a realistic approach (easier for them to apply to the water users in the Delta who are not in the Public Water Coalition), and one that opens a lot of space for environmentalists to work with them. So that’s good.