Definitely do high speed rail, though.

Governor Brown is clearly yearning for a water legacy, something that can live up to his father’s achievements.  He’s been pushing the Peripheral Canal Tunnels as hard as he can for that purpose.  What if his real legacy is an overhaul of the water rights system to give real resilience to the Central Valley?  What if the true legacy Gov. Brown could achieve in his last term is banging on his front door, shouting his name, and he is too focused on the Tunnels to hear it?

ADDED 7/21:  It strikes me that reforming water rights might have to happen before any Delta conveyance project can go forward.  Delta conveyance can’t move forward because there is no trust.  Maybe revising the water rights system would answer enough questions (who does get water in droughts anyway; how much pumping are we talking about; when growers don’t get water, do we give them money instead; will there be Westlands or Delta farmers left; will urban voters insist on their water no matter what) that the physical solution can be resolved.  Those questions cannot be answered to stakeholders’ satisfaction under our current regime because there are too many potential interpretations of our overlaid water rights; a judge could pick any one of a range of answers.  Gov. Brown is approaching this backward.

Besides which, the Delta process is locked up.  But there is still tons of play in the water rights reform arena because so far as I’ve seen, I’m the only one rushing in.


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5 responses to “Definitely do high speed rail, though.

  1. For my views on High Speed Rail and vanity projects, see Part 8 of my Open Letter on the California Water Fix

  2. Steve Bloom

    The main thing high speed rail will achieve is to further urbanize the valley floor.

  3. Steve Bloom

    I thought you were still hanging around the arena entrance until after another year or two of drought? :)

    I don’t think “will urban voters insist on their water no matter what” is even a question. 75%+ of the state’s population (depending on how you define urban) is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in this game. But so long as they are convinced the whole state is pulling together, as we are seeing they will conserve, albeit unevenly at first.

  4. onthepublicrecord

    We are setting the stage.

    Year 4: awkwardly raise the question, backing away and denying it in the next breath. But shit, this really isn’t working, I mean, like, unless the courts can help still maybe? Maybe the State Board will work magic with ‘reasonable’ or ‘beneficial’ so we don’t gotta do anything. Maybe it will rain.

    Year 5: No, but really. I mean, if we did it, what would we do? Put some proposals on the table. (If we can get people debating specific proposals, we’d have made huge progress.) We can’t possibly change, but what we’re doing now is not working one bit. Maybe it will rain.

    Year 6: Holy crap, we can’t afford what we’re doing. I’m not fucking carrying my shower water out to my trees anymore. That second option, that one wasn’t so bad. Even if it does rain we gotta do something.

    It is fine for unaffiliated blogs to be jumping ahead. People like me give cover to the more moderate voices.

  5. Steve Bloom

    Unfortunately for the prospect of coherent near-term action, that’s not how it’s likely to go. The mix of wet and dry years will change toward dry, with the occasional string of both, but likely with enough wet for policymakers to continue avoiding the bitter medicine for some years to come.

    Hmm, is it possible to a private party to sue someone for causing a tax increase, or alternatively to sue a government agency to prevent an expenditure of public funds to fix a problem created by another private party?