Opportunity to Engage, Educate on Water with Newly Elected Officials

  • by Dave Eggerton
  • Jan 23, 2019
  • Voices on Water

ACWA members know well why a comprehensive perspective is absolutely vital in developing good water policy. But outside of our community, what is obvious to us can be revealed wisdom to others. 

As we start 2019, there are many newly elected and appointed officials, ranging from Governor Gavin Newsom and his administration, to new members of the state Legislature and a reshaped California Congressional Delegation in the House of Representatives.

I have a fair degree of optimism that Governor Newsom will continue his predecessor’s commitment to comprehensive planning as outlined in the Brown administration’s California Water Action Plan. That plan includes many of the elements of ACWA’s own Statewide Water Action Plan (SWAP) released in 2013. Successfully unifying the public water agency community in our SWAP around a common vision for comprehensive water policy required hundreds of hours of collaborative work within our membership. It was well worth the effort. 

Now, it’s time for another effort where ACWA members can make a difference. Right now, ACWA advocates at the state and federal levels are conducting outreach to each and every new member of the Legislature and California Congressional Delegation. But it’s a united and concerted effort among all ACWA members that will ultimately make the most impact. 

All of us need to become educators as well as advocates in explaining why comprehensive planning is the only way forward to a sustainable water future for California. For example, the crafting of voluntary agreements and policy on the Bay-Delta must take into account impacts on achieving the goals of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and the ability to replenish groundwater. Looking at comprehensive planning another way, improving and maintaining California’s water supply resources and ecosystems can’t rely on just one strategy, but must employ a comprehensive set of tools.

There are multiple options within comprehensive planning, which is why leaders with open minds will be able to find common ground on important strategies of mutual interest. Comprehensive water management planning is a nonpartisan policy area that falls outside the scope of today’s turbulent political climate. We can help California’s leaders in Sacramento and Washington D.C. see the big picture and the benefits of local, state and federal governments working together on water solutions, whether that is on drought contingency planning for the Colorado River and urban and agricultural water supplies, or on how the state will achieve the coequal goals of improving water supply reliability and the health of the Bay-Delta ecosystem.

You can help by engaging your local legislators and representatives. Contact their district office and set up an appointment with the member or representative in his or her district. We can provide the necessary background materials so that you can effectively communicate the critical importance of issues facing ACWA members.

At the federal level, this year’s ACWA D.C. Conference, Feb. 26-28, offers an excellent opportunity to hear from the presidential administration and Congressional leaders, along with top decision makers at agencies such as the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Similarly, the annual Legislative Symposium on March 6 in Sacramento will give you an opportunity to hear from Legislators about key water issues at the state Capitol.

As with the arrival of all new years, 2019 arrives with a mix of fresh and continuing challenges in terms of funding and policy making. The wrinkle this year is the high turnover among our elected officials. Whether newly elected or not, our elected officials need to hear from us about our priorities, how water issues matter to all Californians, and why solutions must stem from a comprehensive viewpoint.  Together, we can educate them and start building relationships to foster a strong appreciation for the great work that public water agencies do each and every day to provide a reliable water supply for the people and agriculture of this state.

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