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.