All the right enemies.

Wow. This is some letter (from ACWA, opposing the second draft of the Delta Plan). Long list of signatories, too.

I don’t have the concentration to address their main claim, that the DSC is over-stepping their authority. My offhand rebuttals are 1. the Legislature wanted to punt on the hard questions, handing them over to someone else and 2. the local and regional folks consider anything more than handing out money* to be overstepping state authority. But I don’t know. I’d have to read the Plan next to the authorizing legislation to say whether it oversteps, and I don’t have that kind of concentration tonight.

Since I won’t be looking at the question of overstepping, I can say some quick things. First, that’s a long list of well-known signatories, but I am relieved to see that they are all the same kind of signatory. Honestly, those are the folks I’d want to oppose any policies of mine. Some of them are Building Industry Association or Chamber of Commerce types. Their whole prospect for the state depends on the premise of unlimited cheap water. Since that isn’t the physical reality (we should be working on planned retreat and intentional shrinking of our economy to the size we’ll be able to support with our new climate), I think of the BIA’s disapproval as a guide to good policy-making. The rest are paid fulltime to advocate for their constituents’ narrow self-interests. Constituents don’t want to start paying now for resilience later or for their share of the larger burden, so I don’t consider their advocate’s disapproval a bad thing. So that is a fine list of signatories opposed to the second draft of the Delta plan.

The letter writes:

The Council should heed the lessons from Calfed: it is neither heroic nor effective to develop a plan that is unmanageable and indefensible – and ultimately fails to move California forward.

Huh. The lesson I took from CalFed is that pretending there are win-win solutions and crafting bullshit that is too complicated to offend anyone will collapse in the face of simple truths about salmon counts. The other thing I remember from CalFed is that anyone tasked with fixing the Delta arrives real quick at a realization that the entire state, upstream and down, is involved in fixing the Delta. So, you know, different people learned different things from CalFed.

My last thought was that for a strongly worded letter, that is some pretty weak-ass weaseling. What does crap like this mean?

We cannot support the second draft as it envisions unnecessary and untenable regulatory underpinning to a Delta Plan that will only exacerbate present challenges in the Delta rather than contribute to their resolution consistent with the coequal goals.

I mean, if that’s true, it is a real problem. A plan that does the opposite of its intention is bad news. So I waited to hear the mechanism. How exactly does the plan do the opposite of what it says? First the letter goes on about overstepping authority for the rest of the page. At the top of the second page, it explains the assertion that the plan will actually do the opposite of meet the co-equal goals.

The problem of the overreaching regulatory approach displayed in the second draft goes beyond the exaggeration of legal authority –it will rapidly move the Council away from success, driving away from the table the very parties, across the stakeholder community, that are critical to the successful implementation of an effective and viable Delta Plan over the next several decades.

Oh. The mechanism is “if the state is the boss of us, we won’t like it and we will sulk and you need our cooperation.” Awesome. You know, if you have the balls to sign this letter, why not go the rest of the way and say WE won’t show up for your plan? Not some vague ‘stakeholders across the community’ (I notice ‘stakeholders’ from Delta groups or the enviros didn’t sign on to your letter), but you guys, the powerful districts. What, you’re threatening the DSC with what the other stakeholders might do? No, you’re talking about yourselves, so say it. Worse, your reasoning isn’t that you refuse to do whatever the Delta plan says you’ll have to not because it won’t help the Delta, but because you go always go apeshit when the state proposes to exert authority over you and you’ll go apeshit this time too because you can’t help yourself whenever you are in the presence of regulation. You say that people will be so affronted by regulations that they’ll balk like donkeys, but you still didn’t make the case that those regulations won’t fix the Delta.

Frankly, this is some menacing posturing from the biggest water districts and trade groups in the state, and their own explicit reasons are nakedly ugly. They aren’t a detailed alternate fix. They aren’t a helpful willingness to face the future of the state and jointly shoulder the state’s burdens. They’re the same insistence on local authority and narrow self-interest that got us into this mess. DSC, stand firm. If that worked, someone would have figured out how by now. It can’t work, and you have co-equal goals to meet.

*Speaking of which, I need to review ACWA’s proposed gw plan.


Filed under Uncategorized

3 responses to “All the right enemies.

  1. Thanks for ending the drought with a great rant. Sometimes I almost wish I lived in California, just so’s I could get involved without giving up my firm pledge to act (and mostly think) locally. There’s enough up here in Oregon to keep me busy forever, but no one in these parts seems to be capable of such wonderfully heated up prose, Aquadoc notwithstanding. What a great community of Water Warriors you have down there.

  2. onthepublicrecord

    Thanks. I am generally happy to oblige with a rant.

  3. Jonathan

    Having seen the inner workings of these state processes, California needs to grow some cahones. ACWA and all the big urban and agricultural water suppliers that they represent just love to throw their weight around – it is 19th century fear-mongering that is running the state rather than 21st century planning. We have some serious shit to deal with – a growing population (particularly in the driest areas of the state), widespread groundwater contamination, a long-term trend of decreasing snow pack (the state’s largest reservoir) and these guys just want business as usual because it benefits them. When will the state learn to stop playing their game?