In their May 17 column, “California needs strong, fair and effective groundwater agencies,” Michael Kiparsky and Holly Doremus directed attention to the importance of governance for Groundwater Sustainability Agencies formed under the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
Good governance is an important piece of the democratic process that will be necessary to ensure successful groundwater management. Because many of us rely on groundwater, SGMA implementation must also provide real opportunities to inform and engage diverse stakeholders.
Unfortunately, on May 18 the California Water Commission approved final regulations that all but ignore governance and downplay the requirements for stakeholder engagement.
As a result, much of the burden will fall on the nascent GSAs to chart their own course toward success by fostering an open and collaborative process that doesn’t just seek out stakeholders to check a box, but instead actively and effectively encourages diverse participation.
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Despite the omissions in the newly adopted regulations, the importance of good governance and effective stakeholder engagement should not be forgotten.
If it is, groundwater management under SGMA may look a lot like it has in the past, with special interests outweighing the public good.
Kristin Dobbin, Community Water Center, Visalia
Jennifer Clary, Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund, Visalia