“We need some big boy help.”

A CSD near Redding is, like most of our infrastructure (physical and governmental), highly climate brittle. They are asking for help, as they don’t have the financial, technical and managerial capacity to solve the problem. Having hundreds of tiny districts already is not working; we should be consolidating into a few major watershed-scale districts.

ADDED 11/26: In response to the very good comments, I want to make clear that I am advocating for large-scale consolidation on a regional scale. There are thousands of these tiny CSD’s. I think they are mostly about to be unable to perform their mission. Instead of combining them by voluntary onesies and twosies, we should be examining what scale and governance we’ll need next, anticipating wholesale consolidation into new county-size (or larger) agencies.

2 Comments

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2 responses to ““We need some big boy help.”

  1. Mike Johnston

    You’re right, small water districts and/or patchwork purveyors are a problem, particularly in rural disadvantaged communities. Plenty of examples of unwillingness of nearby larger systems to consolidate and take on smaller district’s problems or to extend service to neighboring well owners. (Soledad, East Porterville)
    Other big problem has been inability of small DAC systems to get grants for necessary treatment systems because of inability to fund future O&M.
    Some good movement in those areas as Regional Water Boards get increased authority to force consolidation and more funding is available for small DAC systems O&M.
    It’s a step in the right direction.

  2. Bill Kier

    I know this isn’t what blogs are for, but the ‘we need some big boy help’ post calls several things to my mind:

    1- An 1816 Thomas Jefferson quote that has morphed over the years into something like ‘government closest to the people governs best’.
    2- GOP State Assemblyman Bob Wood, a former Monterey County Supervisor, a truly amicable guy as GOPers could be 45 years ago, who refined Jefferson further for me one day as ‘the essential level for policy-making is ours, the best level for funding our polices is at least one level up’
    3- I can still see the State Capitol hearing rooms packed with special-district folks – including hundreds of fire chiefs in uniform – as the Legislature tried to sort out the chaos in the wake of the passage of Prop 13 in 1978. I suspect that the majority of those outraged suburbanites voted for Prop 13 without a clue they were crippling their own ‘closest to the people’ gov’t agencies
    4- As for dealing with things on the watershed scale I’ve two things to show from that notion: 1- a federally-funded guidebook that a colleague and I put together when we actually thought that a new realignment along watershed boundaries was possible and 2- the scars I have from trying to put that new alignment in practice.

    I give you Butte County and Butte Creek. We did a grant-funded preliminary assessment of the salmon habitat restoration of Butte Creek at the height of the early-1990s ‘watershed-based community’ euphoria – see here

    CALFED was in full flower and they wanted in the worst way to fund our follow-on preliminary engineering proposal to make Butte Creek a spring-run salmon haven once more.

    Butte Creek flows near the State University town of Chico. There’s substantial interest in restoring Butte Creek salmon habitat within the Chico community.

    Chico and Butte Creek are, however, within Butte County. County government is over the hill in Oroville where the politics are quite unlike those of Chico.

    Our CALFED proposal was killed for two reasons, one substantive, one trivial.

    PG&E, which has some antediluvian small hydropower works on Butte Creek had (has?) problems with changing things there for salmon and 2- the County of Butte’s water resources person took umbrage at not having been involved in defining our project – ‘our bad – we were caught up in the (CALFED’s) ‘watershed community’ moment.

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