Issue 9, Volume 6, October 2012
Message from the President
By Jeffery M. Thomas, Board President

Fall is perhaps the most thrilling, exhausting, and unnerving season for public officials during an election year. The anticipation of the coming election, earning high-profile endorsements, and the rapid pace of campaign events and activities can be exhilarating. But concerns about whether they met the right voters, walked the right neighborhoods, and what their opponent may do in the final weekend before the election can loom overhead, causing anxiety and sleepless nights. For our readers who are running for office and for those who are not, rest easy, Election Day is only 26 days away. In this issue of eCurrents, we focus not on the upcoming election but on things that can be accomplished in water when there is political leadership and cooperation among our local, state and federal policymakers to “get stuff done.”

This month, we feature an “End of Session” legislative wrap up that highlights some of the bills and policy issues that directly impact the water industry. As usual, there was a flurry of activity in the final weeks of the legislative session, with hundreds of bills hurried through committees and floor votes before adjournment. A number of water-industry supported bills were passed and ultimately signed into law by the governor. Some of the bills passed with little or no opposition while others finally secured the signature of the governor after being vetoed in previous years by his predecessor. Either way, it takes leadership, cooperation, and commitment for a lawmaker to successfully advance his or her bill through the legislature and have it signed into law. We want to commend our legislators for their tireless efforts.

We also spotlight things that can be accomplished when leadership is demonstrated within the water industry. We are pleased to have a special contribution this month from state Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), who recently co-sponsored a Metropolitan Water District inspection trip of the lower Colorado River and its agricultural community. Senator Huff shares his personal story about growing up in the Imperial Valley and of his early education about water and its value to the economy and our quality of life. Major water supply and conveyance projects like the Colorado River Aqueduct don’t just happen. They require vision and leadership and Senator Huff touches upon that in his article.

Finally, we welcome another editorial contribution from UC Irvine Professor Jay Famiglietti who makes some important observations about where vision and leadership is still needed to clearly articulate our fundamental water issues on a national and global scale and to implement a comprehensive plan to tackle them. Again, he offers a thought provoking look at the challenges we face as an industry and I urge you to read and consider what he has to say.

End of Session Activity Foreshadows Busy Year in 2013
By Casey Elliott, State Capitol Director, Townsend Public Affairs

On August 31st, the Legislature adjourned the 2011-12 legislative session sending nearly 1,000 bills to the Governor for his consideration. During this year, the Legislature tackled many important issues facing the State of California, including the high profile issues of pension reform and the state budget.

In the water policy arena, there were a number of bills approved by the Legislature and then acted upon by the Governor. Despite strong opposition by ACWA and many of its members, the Governor ultimately signed AB 685 (Eng), a bill establishing a “right to water,” into state law that directs agencies to consider this policy when revising or adopting regulations, policies, and grant criteria. The Governor also signed AB 1750 (Solorio), the Rainwater Capture Act, which authorizes landowners to install, maintain, and operate rain barrel systems and rainwater capture systems. This is a measure that had been a high priority of Assemblyman Solorio and a bill that he pursued aggressively in the final months of session. Additionally, AB 2443 (Williams), a bill passed by the Legislature aimed at reducing the spread of invasive mussels by imposing a Quagga and Zebra Mussel Infestation Prevention Free on freshwater boat registrations, was signed into law by the Governor. Assemblyman Williams worked with local agencies throughout the year to ensure that his bill will not affect existing local water agency programs.

Also signed into law were three bills addressing the increasing problem of metal theft. Among those measures were SB 1045 and SB 1387 by Senator Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet). In coordination with Eastern Municipal Water District, Senator Emmerson crafted these bills to deter metal theft by imposing criminal and civil penalties on junk dealers and recyclers who accept stolen manhole covers, backflow devices, and fire hydrants.

Click here to read the complete state legislative wrap up.

MWD’s Agricultural and Lower Colorado River Inspection Trip: A Walk Down Memory Lane
By Senator Bob Huff, California State Senate

Water. Without it, life doesn’t exist. Having grown up on a farm in the lower desert of California, the Imperial Valley, I was reared with a keen awareness of the value of water. In 1906, my grandfather swam his horse across the flooding New River, which was channeling the diverted flow of the Colorado River, creating what was soon to be known as the Salton Sea. Grandpa Huff did this to stake out 160 acres of desert land to follow his dream of developing a farm, not knowing whether the wild river would be tamed, or the land would be under fifty feet of water, the property’s elevation below sea level. The flow was stopped, and the land my grandfather laid claim to became part of the fifth most productive agricultural counties in the nation.

I jokingly say I’ve been to every dam project in the western United States, but it is not far off. My dad loved to travel, and he loved to learn. We got to learn in the process as well. I remember visiting and touring Hoover Dam, Glen Canyon Dam when it was being constructed, and later while filling. The Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia was a breathtaking site, and downriver the Bonneville Dam had the first lock system I had seen, an easily visited fish-ladder, and a hatchery. My favorite was visiting the Oroville Dam while it was being constructed, driving through the valley that would be flooded, and then visiting again years later when full.

While my father’s interest in harnessing water and power for a growing population translated into educational experiences for me, as I got older, I realized few others have an understanding or appreciation that water doesn’t just magically appear when you turn on the tap. Someone has to plan, build, and maintain a reliable water supply. In our area, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and its associated water agencies do much of the heavy lifting in Southern California.

Click here to read more from Sen. Bob Huff.

Wanted: Vision and Leadership to Ensure a Sustainable Water Future for America
By Jay Famiglietti, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine

I recently wrote a piece for the Hydrology Newsletter of the American Geophysical Union — the international professional society of Earth and Space scientists based in the United States — and I thought that the modified version presented here would be important to share with the readership of eCurrents.

Here’s the set-up. A critical problem that we face in the U.S. is that, as a country, we lack the vision and leadership to clearly articulate our fundamental water issues, and to implement a comprehensive plan to tackle them. As usual, my focus is on water quantity for large regions such as nations and continents, which is my area of expertise.

I’m talking about big picture issues here – the forest, not the trees – because many of our local, state, and federal agencies are doing a superb job with their targeted missions. The USGS, NASA, NOAA, DOE, the National Weather Service, the Army Corps, the Bureau of Reclamation, etc., are all doing great things with the limited resources that they have.

But we need to step up and recognize that there’s a lot that we don’t know about water availability, and even more that we can’t predict. The general public and our elected officials need to know the issues so that we can make the investments that we need today, in order to propose technologically advanced, science-based management and solution strategies for tomorrow. The forest is in trouble, and the trees are already dying off. It’s time to act.

Click here to read more about water leadership.

Municipal Water District of Orange County
18700 Ward Street
P.O. Box 20895
Fountain Valley, CA 92728
Phone: (714) 963-3058
Fax: (714) 964-9389

MWDOC Board of Directors
Jeffery M. Thomas, President
Wayne A. Clark, Vice President
Brett R. Barbre, Director
Larry D. Dick, Director
Joan C. Finnegan, Director
Susan Hinman, Director
Wayne Osborne, Director

Kevin P. Hunt, P.E.,
General Manager

MWDOC's Metropolitan Directors
Linda Ackerman, Director
Brett R. Barbre, Director
Larry D. Dick, Director
John V. Foley, Director

Calendar of Events

MWDOC PAL Committee:
October 15, 8:30 a.m. @ MWDOC

MWDOC Board of Directors:
October 17, 8:30 a.m. @ MWDOC

MWDOC/OCWD Joint Planning:
October 24, 8:30 a.m.@ MWDOC

Water Advisory Committee of Orange County:
November 2, 7:30 a.m. @ MWDOC

Water Advisory Committee
of Orange County

Friday, November 2, 2012
7:30 - 9:00 a.m.

Click here for more information

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Orange County
Water Use Efficiency
Master Plan Workshop

Orange County
Water Use Efficiency
Master Plan Workshop

October 15, 2012
9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

MWDOC Board Room
18700 Ward Street,
Fountain Valley

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