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Water Weekly 3: there is nothing retireing about this

Here are this week’s top three water stories, as compiled by the media-addicted water wonks at Laer Pearce & Associates.  You’ll find the Big Three here every Thursday, or you can follow LPAWater on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and analysis or subscribe to our e-blasts to receive the Weekly 3 directly.

1. There’s Nothing Retiring About This

Public Records Act requests are hitting water districts like Delta smelt hitting the diversion gates at Tracy.  Ever since the LA Times used Robert “the Rat” Rizzo to break the public employ compensation story, reporters are asking how much administrators and board members receive in salaries, benefits and retirement.  The big story this week is that the big story is coming soon, and we’ve been helping districts prep for upcoming interviews.  Here is a bit of the chum that has the sharks swirling:


Weekly 3 Land: Leave the planning to the planners and the communication to the communicators

What are the three biggest stories each week in the world of California land development?  You’ll find them right here, or follow LP&A all week long on Twitter at @LPALand for up-to-the-minute news and analysis.  You can also sign up to receive the Weekly 3 via email here. This week:

1. Don’t Worry, I’m a Doctor

Surprise, surprise.  Residents of a north San Diego community got more than they bargained for when they decided to manage future growth in their neighborhood.  A 1998 ballot-box zoning measure constricted the proposed Pacific Highlands Ranch to 1,900 units until a controversial new freeway interchange gets built.  Go figure, that interchange has been held up by red tape, and now the Ranch’s residents flood surrounding parks and shops because the facilities in their neighborhood aren’t planned until later, ballot-box-stalled phases.  Efforts to unwind the 1998 measure are currently underway.


The Weekly 3: Water Industry

What were the three biggest California water stories of the past seven days?  Well, the news-heads and policy wonks here at Laer Pearce & Associates have compiled them for you here.  You’ll find the Big Three here every Thursday, or you can follow LPAWater on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and analysis. You can also sign up to receive the Weekly 3 via email here.

1.  Something rotten in the water?

Public attention is sharply focused on governmental mismanagement thanks to Robert Rizzo and the Bell city council, so when the FBI and DA raided the City of Oxnard’s offices this week and hauled out hard drives and files, you could almost hear the next shoe falling. Ken Ortega, the former Public Works Director who ran Oxnard’s Groundwater Recovery Enhancement and Treatment program, is the probable target.


The Weekly 3: Land Development

What are the three biggest stories each week in the world of California land development?  You’ll find them right here, or follow LP&A all week long on Twitter at @LPALand for up-to-the-minute news and analysis.  You can also subscribe to our e-blast to receive our Weekly Three directly. This week:

1. It depends what your definition of “is” is

Either a plant or animal species is threatened with extinction or it’s not.  Seems pretty black and white … or green.  So why is the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service trying to list some populations of the Preble’s Meadow jumping mouse and other species as threatened, even though the species itself is abundant?  The Service’s motives are up for debate, but the consequences are as clear a new double-paned Energy Star window:  lots of land could soon fall unnecessarily under tough federal permitting requirements, and that’s no bueno for homebuilders and the successful habitat conservation planning efforts they’ve spearheaded.


Weekly 3: Water Industry

The media-scouring folks here at Laer Pearce & Associates have compiled the three biggest California water stories of the week – well, the one really, really big story and a couple of interesting also-rans.  You’ll find the Big Three here every Thursday, or you can follow LPAWater on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and analysis. You can also sign up for our e-blasts here.

1. The 2012 Water Bond

All the forces that came together to cajole, arm-twist and horse-trade the historic Nov. 2009 water package through a reluctant legislature apparently were nowhere to be found when it came to contributing the dollars needed to run a successful campaign – if a successful campaign for an $11 billion bond could be had at any price during the state’s current fiscal melt-down.  So now it’s the 2012 water bond, which means two more years to build support … and two more years to tear it down.  We hope the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta won’t collapse while we’re bickering.


The Water Bond – Now What?

It was the strangest sort of victory.

Last night’s last-hour squeaker of a vote to delay Proposition 18, the $11 billion California water bond, could be seen as an admission of defeat … well, future defeat anyway.  Had there been confidence campaign funds would roll in and the California electorate would vote “yes” in droves, Sacramento would have been busy with other things yesterday.  Important stuff no doubt, like regulating pet insurance.

But the vote was also a victory, because those who prefer the status quo – an odd mix of environmentalists, Delta residents and fiscal conservatives – were geared up to keep the bond on the November ballot, because they sensed they might be able to stop the state’s biggest step forward on water resource management in decades … if they could force the vote in year when Californians are (finally!) getting concerned about the state’s finances.

So, 2012 now will be the year of the water bond.  In California politics, 2012 is about as far in the future as white-wigged Whigs are in the past.  Who knows what mischief will transpire between now and then?  Well, we have a few ideas:

  • Chances are very good that at least one citizen initiative countering the bond will be on the ballot.  It will likely be a greener alternative, but it could also be a more gung-ho one, calling for the fast-tracked construction of more storage and a new  canal. It just depends on who raises enough money to send out the signature-gathering armies.
  • Forces will be tearing at the water bond itself.  Expect bills by the boatload in the next legislative sessions, each pushing one constituency’s position forward and another’s back.  So far, the rather miraculous coalition supporting the bond has held together, but can it last two more years?
  • Expect wet winters … or dry ones. Who knows? Either way, weather will influence the electorate.
  • And oh yeah, expect there to be a presidential race on the 2012 ballot, with all the attention and emotion it will bring.

We are supporters of the bond.  We think “meaty” describes it much better than “porky,” particularly if it’s compared to previous water bonds. We think the state’s water infrastructure has deteriorated to the point where big steps are needed.  We understand that in California, you’re not going to be able to get anything through the legislature that solves everything and does it without some sweeteners thrown in and some necessities thrown out.

In short, we’re willing to settle for the miraculous, even if it’s not the perfect.

Restore the Delta, a rabidly anti-bond group that puts the Delta “sense of place” above the state’s economic vitality, just said, “The problems with the bond will only grow more glaring in time.”

That’s what they fervently hope. Supporters of the bond need to counter this by showing – clearly, conclusively and forcefully – that it’s the problems with the state’s water infrastructure, not the problems with the bond, that are growing more glaring, and at an alarming rate of speed.

The recent State Water Resources Control Board staff report calling for an end-of-life-as-we-know-it level of cuts in water exports from the Delta, bad as it is, is a step in that direction.  Here’s hoping the water bond campaign has the resources, courage and capability to build a solid messaging lead in the next two years, and that the best bond wins.

Weekly 3: Water industry

Every day, we scour the media, blogs and social media to track news and trends in water. You’ll find the three biggest stories of the week here every Friday, or you can follow LPAWater on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and analysis.

#1 – It’s all dinosaur pee anyway

The public has long supported irrigating with recycled wastewater, but we’re thrilled to see growing acceptance of the re-use of wastewater for potable purposes.  Call it what you will, but “potable reuse” or “toilet-to-tap” has long been a political third rail in San Diego. That’s changed, as the first story below tells how that city is moving toward becoming the first in California to use treated wastewater to augment its reservoirs.  The second discusses a big expansion of the Santa Clarita Valley’s wastewater-to-irrigation infrastructure.

Read the San Diego News Room story here

Read the Santa Clarita Signal story here


The Weekly 3: Water

Every day, we scour media, blogs and social media to track news and trends in water.  You’ll find the three biggest stories of the week in your in-box every Friday, or you can follow LPAWater on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and analysis.

#1 – Westlands may sell water to MWD – Whodathunkit?

Water is a funny thing. One year ago, farmers in the expansive Westlands Water District were quite literally dying on the vine.  Court rulings in environmentalist lawsuits over delta smelt and various salmon species and another year of drought had left them waterless, firing the “Fish vs. Farmers” debate. This year, the farmers expected more of the same and left fields fallow, but a lot more rain and a little more pumping has left them with surplus water, so a deal may be in the works to sell it to MWD.

Read the article here


Water Tweet of the Week

Every week, our water industry clients and more than 500 others turn to LPAWater on Twitter for the latest important news and opinion in the world of water.

The mega-tweet of the week was this one, posted at 4:27 p.m. on July 21:  Draft SWRCB flow recommendations for #SacDelta call for more flow into & thru, particularly in winter & spring – not good for SoCal.

We’ve been waiting for the State Water Resources Control Board to issue its legislature-mandated report on the health of the Sacramento Delta, hoping the Board would highlight the many stressors on the Delta that have nothing to do with water exports (ammonia, invasive species, farm run-off), and to an extent it did just that. But its focus was on the need to dramatically cut water exports to San Joaquin Valley farms and cities from the Bay Area to the border that are dependent on Delta water – specifically, cuts of up to 30% of exports from the Delta and 70% of diversions north of the Delta. Cuts of that magnitude would have dramatic quality of life and economic impacts on Southern California.

Another LPAWater tweet, published Friday at about noon, presented a good response: SF Chron calls for “gradual … shift in #water use thru conservation, tech & better planning,” not harsh cuts.

We like that idea, and we also like the emphasis the San Francisco Chronicle made that this is a draft study, and is  subject to change.

A Quick Public Service Announcement

I remember those blissful days a decade or so ago before the Sacramento Delta settled like a cold, wet blanket over my consciousness.  The bliss!

Now not a day goes by when the Delta (Twitter hashtag #SacDelta) isn’t talked about, thought about, flown over or toured.  It is at the crux of whatever solution we attain for California’s water problems, so it touches policy discussions we have with our water district, land development and municipal clients. It’s simply become the most important place in all of California.

And coming up next Tuesday is an important hearing at the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee (9:30 a.m., State Capitol, room 437) into how things are going with the Delta Stewardship Council and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. These two entities are critical to the answer to one of the most significant policy discussions of our times:  Will California be able to maintain a reliable water supply?  For those of you as interested in the topic as we are, here’s the agenda for the meeting:


I. Opening Comments

II. Panel 1 – Agency Perspectives

  • Lester Snow, Secretary, California Natural Resources Agency
  • Phil Isenberg, Chair, Delta Stewardship Council

Panel 2 – BDCP Steering Committee Stakeholders’ Perspectives

  • Laura King Moon, State Water Contractors
  • Ann Hayden, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Melinda Terry, North Delta Water Agency

Panel 3 – Perspectives on Integration: BDCP & Delta Counties’ HCP/NCCPs

  • Don Nottoli, Delta Stewardship Council, Delta Protection Commission, Sacramento County Board of Supervisors
  • Jim Provenza, Yolo County Board of Supervisors
  • Kim Delfino, Defenders of Wildlife

Panel 4 – Other Interested Stakeholders’ Perspectives

  • Barry Nelson, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Osha Meserve, Reclamation District 999, Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge Association

III. Public Comment

The Water Policy Oracles will be reading the tea leaves on this hearing for some time to come.  We’ll keep you posted on what we hear, mostly via our LPAWater Twitter page.

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