"Gray’s bill s a state-certified administrative law judge, like those used in disputes with other state agencies, between enforcement and appeal."
Sep 22, 2017
State Assemblyman Adam Gray is attempting to inject some fairness into the State Water Resource Board's almost dictatorial ability to change water rights policy regarding California's rivers. According to Water Deeply, "the water board has the legal authority to take back water rights when public trust resources, like Chinook salmon populations, are threatened...The board is proclaiming that streamflows aren’t sufficient to keep water temperatures cold enough for salmon survival." Further, "to reach the 40 percent goal on the San Joaquin River, hundreds of companies and individuals will have to give up a portion of their right to divert water from the river and three of its tributaries: the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers."
Under the current rules, Gray says the water board is "judge, jury and prosecutor all in one place." They write the rules, decide what's right, and when you appeal they also hear the appeal. There have been over 2500 complaints to the board since 2012. Most never got to a hearing, but of those that did only four were overturned. According to the Modesto Bee, "roughly speaking, you’ve got about a 1-in-640 chance of prevailing against the water board."
"Gray’s bill s a state-certified administrative law judge, like those used in disputes with other state agencies, between enforcement and appeal. The judge will rule on appeals(Other reports say it will be a panel of judges). Only then will the case proceed to the water board." We applaud Gray's effort, but wonder how neutral the judge will really be. Is anyone neutral in today's world? In California, on which side of the scale do we think the judge will place his thumb? And, no matter what the judge decides, the board still makes the ultimate decision.
The board's decision on the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers is due in October. Remember, the board has already said the 40% goal is a compromise, and the salmon really need 60%.
The bill is on the governor's desk. Will he sign it? We will watch and see how this all works out.
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