Reading ACWA’s alternate Delta Plan was like a groovy trip to an alternate universe where the right and proper solution to all problems is not the Iron Fist of Centralized Power, but is instead The State Should Coordinate With Itself. I know!! Trippy. The near, mid and long term actions in every section were mostly recommendations for what the state could do with itself. Honestly, I blame ourselves, in two ways.
- By many accounts, the state has been embarrassingly disjointed and terrible to deal with. The different aspects of managing water are widely parted out and there is no shortage of stories of the state contradicting itself. Sorry, y’all. Truly, there are substantial efforts to straighten that out and institute a new culture of getting our act together at the state first before we go public. That’s been going on for a few years, but evidently hasn’t made much of an impression yet. Our bad. This is why I like the sort of governance proposals made by the Little Hoover Commission and PPIC, to merge state water agencies. The resulting agency would be big and need to pay conscious attention to coordination, but it’d be better.
- My department at least is willing to openly acknowledge this, which is why a lot of bigger collaborative policy discussions have started there. Everyone, including the State, can agree that the State needs to do a better job. Great! Agreement! But in so many of our policy processes, the discussion ends when disagreement starts. So we never talk about the next things, things more controversial than “the state needs to do a better job.”
All that’s openly known, and ACWA is largely right about the state needing to do all the coordination it recommends. But making that the centerpiece of the Delta Plan is a terrible waste. In the first place, the state should be doing that no matter what. Fourthly, what a fucking waste of the DSC. The Legislature creates a new body with some real authority and it should spend its time nagging agencies? Seventeenth, isn’t the revived California Water Commission supposed to be doing a fair share of this? Twelfth, the point of the Delta Plan is not the state diddling itself, but to provide a reliable water supply for the state and to protect, restore and enhance the Delta ecosystem. Those goals are going to have to be met out there, on the ground, with the people of the state who aren’t bureaucrats.