8 of 9 Water Bond Czars hail from NorCal

8 of 9 Water Bond Czars hail from NorCal


drought, Taylor Jones, Cagle, Aug 3, 2014Call them Water Bond Czars.

They’re the nine members of the California Water Commission and will decide how to implement Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the Nov. 4 ballot, should voters pass it.

While most media have focused on what’s in the bond, little attention has been given to who will oversee the first water storage projects built in California in 50 years. The bond stipulates that the Nine Water Bond Czars will decide where the money goes.

According to the commission’s website:

“Seven members are chosen for their general expertise related to the control, storage, and beneficial use of water and two are chosen for their knowledge of the environment.”

But eight of the nine current members hail from Northern California. Just one, Chair Joseph Byrne, hails from drought-parched Southern California.

In the official pamphlet sent to voters for Prop. 1, the impartial California Legislative Analyst explained the powers of the commission for picking water storage projects:

“The Commission would not have to go through the state budget process to spend these funds. For all other funding provided in the measure, the Legislature generally would allocate money annually to state agencies in the state budget process.”     

The power of the commission won’t be total because the $2.7 billion in bond monies for storage must be used as matching funds for water storage projects competitively proposed by other state, federal or local agencies.  In other words, the commission won’t originate storage projects, but will pick the winners from proposals submitted by other agencies.

And Prop. 1 does not provide for accepting proposals from private entities or joint venture projects with private entities.

Who are California’s Water Czars?

A Calwatchdog probe of the makeup of the nine Water Bond Czars found:

  • Eight of nine commissioners are from Northern California.
  • Three are Republicans: Andrew Ball, Luther Hintz and David Orth.
  • Two are undeclared in political party, but liberal-leaning: Jose Del Bosque and Kimberly Delfino.
  • Only three have any strong water policy experience before serving on the commission: Del Bosque, Hintz and Orth.
  • Of those three, only two, both Republicans, have experience with statewide water issues: Hintz, and Orth.
  • The past or present occupation of four of the members is environmental lobbying, education and political consulting: David Curtin, Delfino, Armando Quintero and Anthony Saracino.
  • Two members are primarily labor and union lobbyists: Curtin and Del Bosque.
  • Two are from agriculture, one Democrat, Del Bosque; and one Republican, Orth.
  • Eight are men, one is a woman, Delfino.
  • Interestingly, while anti-fracking activists have erroneously been trying to convince the public that hydraulic fracturing of oil is depleting California’s water supplies, there are no representatives of the oil industry on the Commission.

By clicking on the names in the table below, or going here, the biographies can be seen of each Commission member.

California Water Commission – Member Profiles

Name Principal Occupation Education Northern or Southern California Party Affiliation Prior Water Policy Experience
Andrew Ball Building Industry Architecture Northern Republican None
Political Consultant Law Southern Democrat None
Daniel Curtin Labor Lobbyist & EnvironmentalAdvocate Bachelor of Science Northern Democrat None
Jose Del Bosque Labor & Agriculture Farming (Del Bosque Farms) Northern Undeclared Prior years not stated
Kimberly Delfino Environmental lobbyist Law Northern Undeclared None
Luther Hintz Water Engineer Engineering Northern Republican 52 years
David Orth Agricultural Water Manager-Accountant Accounting Northern Republican 28 years
Armando Quintero Environmental educator Education Northern Democrat None
Anthony Saracino Environmental Water Consultant Environmental Engineer Northern Democrat None


The Commission is far from a panel that reflects the diversity of water interests in California and six of its members had no prior water policy experience before serving on the commission.

If Prop. 1 passes, its implementation could turn out to be a major political controversy in the next several years.

Note: The water bond matching fund share is typically 50 percent.  This means the real tax burden of Proposition 1 is not $7.5 billion, but $10.2 billion, as another $2.7 billion will have to come from other agencies.  So while water storage comprises 35 percent of the $7.5 billion total bond funds provided in Prop. 1, the actual amount of funding for water storage will be $5.4 billion.  This would make funding for water storage about 53 percent of all funding.

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