Minor thoughts as I read the WRP

Draft Water Resilience Portfolio so you can read along.

I was legit impressed that the opening statement read that ‘water is central…’ and I had hopes that perhaps this will be a meaningful document that avoids tired clichés and weak thought and on the very next page, the first sentence said “lifeblood” and all my naïve dreams were crushed. Anyway, I would like to congratulate the authors on waiting one entire page before using the tiredest word in water.


What entity still accuses the State of proposing a one-size-fits-all approach? Why are we still dispelling that straw man? The State has been fetishizing regionalism for ever, despite my blogging. We’ve spent billions in bond funding on IRWM. Can’t we move on from denying that the state wants to impose impossible hegemonic uniformity throughout the regions of CA?

(I mean, I personally do want to, but the State has yet to adopt my preferences, even though I have been clear and explicit about them.)


This document really is a continuation of the Brown Administration’s policies. It has also neatly replaced the Brown Administration’s Water Plan in the “every good idea for all the good outcomes” style of planning.


Where is the legend for Figure 5? What does the change in color mean? Is the light color the “less than half available for people?” Is it the difference between 850MAF and 1.3BAF? Is the color a superfluous dimension that the designer added in for some zing? Who can say!


We are going to have to have a serious talk about the Future Water Supplies section, and we will. Soon. I promise.

(As long as we’re having some hard talks, why are you dumping important documents during the holidays?)


I don’t have much to say about the recommendations. The Resilience Portfolio doesn’t work backward from a realistic, specific vision of what resilient CA water would be, so the recommendations don’t build up to anything coherent. But, fine. Whatever. It is nice to see the agency programs get some love.

  • Kindof an awful lot of “implement the new law”. Suggests the Legislature is driving policy, not the administration. Do we have to say out loud that we will be implementing the new laws? Do we not take that for granted?
  • 18.1 “potentially”. Heh.
  • 21: I am not convinced water markets can ever happen, but if they do and are not constrained by rules to achieve a social goal, they will be a disaster.
  • 24: Seems a little weak for the Silicon Valley governor.


The second to last paragraph on page 26 is a nicely worded version of the “all the good things” vision. Why is it last?

I personally have zero hope that we can arrive at a good future by making improvements on our present; I think we will need to do radically different things that will mean trade-offs that really suck for some people. So I see this document as completely unrealistic political cover for not doing what needs to happen to adapt to climate change. But, given that, why not put the vague vision with no hard trade-offs before the list of every good thing we could do?



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4 responses to “Minor thoughts as I read the WRP

  1. Minor comment … The report Lois Henry mentioned is dated March of 2019 and I covered it when the DWR people showed up at the California Water Commission meeting. It was likely made ADA compatible and was returned to the website, rather than a new document …

  2. Noel Park

    Same answer. Eyewash. Political cover for business as usual.

  3. I agree with your conclusion that we will need a stronger response to the impacts of climate change on our water resources than is proposed by the portfolio. At least the document recognizes that we will be losing the State’s biggest reservoir (Sierra snowpack) in the very near future – in terms of the time it takes to change water infrastructure. But the responses are either general and vague (3.4 and 3.5) or paltry, compared to the need (5.2). I suppose one challenge of preparing a portfolio that tries to define where the State will invest its dollars is that the State provides a trivial amount of funding for water resources projects, compared to the amounts invested by local agencies. In 2014, PPIC estimated the amount from the State to be about 3% of the total, with local agencies providing 85%. Presumably the rest is from the Feds. The PPIC report showed that local water and wastewater agencies have typically been able to generate the funds necessary to keep up with needs, but in the flood management and habitat protection/restoration arenas, funding is sorely lacking.

  4. Jeffrey Michael

    Agree about lifeblood. It is not only tired, but it fuels inaccurate perceptions – at least when used to describe water and the economy.