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Bureaucratic Scorekeeping

Is the process meant to be so cumbersome that most people will just tune it out?

Jun 02, 2018

Could the California Water Commission make things any more confusing than the scoring system they have for Prop 1 storage projects?  The first scores seemed simple enough giving projects a ratio of how much public benefit  there would be for each dollar invested.  Simple, but still confusing.  The scores were based on five specified public benefits: ecosystem benefits, water quality, flood control, emergency response and recreation.
You might remember Temperance Flat scored zero public benefit for every dollar invested.  And then there were appeals and scores got a little better, Temp Flat getting 38-cents of public benefit for every dollar invested.  Then more appeals and better scores and public hearings and more confusion.  
The Commission has now released their latest round of scoring and made it nearly impossible to understand what their thinking is about the projects, but also what their thinking is in setting up this impossible-to-understand scoring system.  
Now, in addition to the public benefits ratio, they are releasing more scores, the public benefits being just one of four factors being considered.  Each project is also being rated for its relative environmental value, resiliency, and implementation risk.  There's a maximum point total for each of these categories, 33 points for public benefit, 27 points for relative environmental value, 25 points for resiliency, and 15 points for implementation risk.  Got all that?
On top of all that the scores are graded on a curve system, with the best project getting the maximum score and others based off that number.  
Now remember, Temperance Flat has basically been rejected.  They have been given just enough money based on their public benefit score to fail.  But in the latest round of scoring Temp Flat scored at the top of the public benefits category with 33 points.  What?  Now, instead of 38- cents on the dollar the Commission is saying it will deliver $2.92 for every dollar invested.  Great news?  No.  Why would this not be great news?  The "proponents reduced the amount of money they were seeking to what they’d been told they could expect. The ratio approved accordingly."  What?
Is the process meant to be so cumbersome that most people will just tune it out?  We have pretty much tuned it out except our mission is to try to explain California water policy to our newsletter readers.  We never thought we'd get Temp Flat built because of Prop 1 bond money to begin with, but hoped we could follow the bureaucratic logic.  I know.  Silly us.  
This scoring process would be hilarious if it weren't about our survival.

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