50-Year Water Plan Briefing Paper Needs Work

The ISC provided a draft of a “Briefing Paper: 50-Year Water Plan.  If we want to make the Fifty-Year Water Plan exercise meaningful, the initial (objectives) paragraph of the Briefing Paper is far too weak. It must be strengthened significantly.

The first paragraphs of the document should unambiguously emphasize a (the) purpose or goal of a useful Fifty-Year Water Plan.  For example, there might be two initial paragraphs saying:

“The purpose of the Fifty-Year Water Plan is to provide solutions to our unaddressed current and growing future water problems (disasters). 

“We face immediate problems of ongoing over-uses, a plethora of over promises, large areas of dwindling aquifers, and this century’s return down to average precipitation levels.  All of these critical issues, over the course of fifty years, as well as their economic impacts, will be dramatically exacerbated by the experts’ climate change predictions of around 30% reduction in available surface water. The Fifty-Year Water Plan needs to develop the institutional framework and institutional capabilities to plan for and equitably deal with sharing the pain.” 

Some of the words in the existing briefing paper’s introductory paragraph could then be preserved or restated to present the means to achieve the above goals.  And those words need also to be strengthened to point out the need for strong, ongoing, regional entities to address the hydrologic, geographic and demographic diversity our state and its problems, as the regions’ supply and demand situations evolve over the coming fifty-year period. 

The briefing paper’s negligible public participation and the overly shortened development time frame both need to be remedied. 

Further commentary appears in the June 2020 HM1WG document entitled “Our Initial Macro View of the 50-Year Water Plan.”

In closing, the Governor’s request for a Fifty-Year Water Plan, provides a rare opportunity to address the state’s long-term, perennial troubles effectively.  We should not squander that opportunity either by aiming too low or by starving the Plan development of necessary resources.