Little Hoover talks Big Water

Anthony Pignataro:

Yesterday the Little Hoover Commission released a new report titled Managing for Change: Modernizing California’s Water Governance. Like all government watchdog reports, a lot of scathing findings and sound recommendations lay behind that jargon-clogged title. Well, I’m assuming there are — because the report is 126 pages long, I only read the press release and 18-page executive summary. But believe me: those documents are dynamite:

“The Commission concluded that the state’s current water management and planning structure, in place since 1979, is obsolete and leaves the state ill-prepared to handle unpredictable precipitation, growing population and the need to better balance environmental needs and agricultural demand,” states the press release.

What’s more, “The state lacks the comprehensive view of water use and demand needed for meaningful management and long-term planning,” states the executive summary.

The report offers a number of possible  solutions, including creating a new Department of Water Management that would bring all water issues into one agency; order the California Water Commission to “provide oversight” of all natural resources bond expenditures; and creating a new publicly owned California Water Authority to oversee the State Water Project.

Will these changes bring about the “transparency, efficiency and accountability” promised by the Little Hoover Commission? Who can say, especially since we’re hard pressed to think of a time when government brought more accountability and efficiency to anything, much less the management of the substances that make intelligent life, as we know it, possible.

Posted Aug. 27, 2010

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