Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mad Hatter's Tea Party

The MWD sponsored a "Community Leader's Briefing" with Mike Feuer, Assembly Member, 42nd District, in North Hollywood last Friday. The MWD set out this tea party just as the Doormouse legislature was preparing for its final budget vote in Sacramento on Sunday, and Feuer was ably briefing the golden haired girls at the table with his offer of AB 49 butter.

AB 49, sponsored by Feuer, promotes increased water use efficiency by requiring a 20 percent reduction in per capita urban water use and implementation of efficient water management practices/plans by agricultural water suppliers. This is due to the long-term impact of climate change and the critical need for water management. It is based on the repeated mantra of "The future will be shaped by continued phenomenal growth", which is based upon a 1997 Census Bureau population projection.

A panel of MWD representatives and Water Board members were there to present the story of water allocation cutbacks that are affecting the big sectors of agriculture, industry and residents. The Sacramento Bay Delta has fallen into serious disrepair and its ecosytem is faltering, along with the fishing industry (fishkills in watersheds and rivers due to lack of water and high temperatures), which are under Federal protection. Agriculture is faltering as land is taken out of production due to lack of water for high-use crops that produce less and less revenue for the State. The urban and industrial footprint has been rapidly expanded under State policies, even as water demand in the last 10 years has been stablized with conservation as the population grew by over a million.

Then Alice speaks up: How can we keep building more and more housing and developments when there's not enough water now?

And the March Hare answered: We must grow! And grow!

And another Alice asks: Can we capture from runoff basins? What about conserving in commercial allocations and integrating water planning?

The Hatter replies: We are out of time now.

Outside this tea party, the civic and regional leadership are having a Local Government Summit in Sacramento to take back local control and sponsor a Constitutional Convention for reform of the State fiscal structure and accountability to the voters, called "Rebuild California from the Ground Up". This is covening at the same time as the State Legislature is expected to vote on a final budget today, perhaps an incentive for the Doormouse.

UPDATE: This convention, sponsored by the League of California Cities, has resulted in consensus on reform initiatives to be put before the voters, with some discussion on whether a complete restructuring of State governance is needed.

In all seriousness, information at the United Nations site lays out a model for the holistic planning approach that must include the citizens and voters, and look at the human capital in context with the environment. California is a fundamentally progressive state, and could be a leader in solving problems by restructuring the process to break out of the old political structures that are hindering its ability to produce a sustainable model for human habitation in a viable environment.