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Thinking Like the Board

We assume the water board could see this coming and expected the reaction they got.

Sep 22, 2016

Water officials in the Northern San Joaquin Valley have spent the last four years trying to negotiate with the State Water Recources Control Board over how much water agriculture would sacrifice for the return of fish to their rivers. The rivers are the Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus.

After what they believed were four years of good faith efforts, the SWRCB released its Substitute Environmental Document last week, a 2,000 page report. There are 57 days to respond.

The water officials were trying to negotiate for a better deal than they had in 2012 where the plan was modeled on 40% flows but recommending 35%. Instead of getting a better deal, the 2016 plan upped demands to 40% hinting at 50%. As they say, be careful what you ask for.

So, instead of shoring up support and getting everyone on the same page to oppose the edict that would surely come, they thought they could negotiate their way out of it. Now they only have 50 or so days to respond to the 2,000 page document. They'll have to spend all their time just going through it.

The reaction from the area has been predictable. The Modesto Bee editorialized "the state water board has released a wrongheaded, lackadaisical, shortsighted plan to take vast portions of the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers and send the water flowing freely out to the Delta."

We assume the water board could see this coming and expected the reaction they got. We think they know exactly where they're going with their final decision, the only question being where that might be. Have they put out their flow numbers and don't care what area residents think? Is the response meaningless? Or, have they thrown out a marker knowing they would look magnanimous by pulling it back 5% or so?

Can you think like the board?

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