Who’s in charge here? (1)

At its June meeting, the California Water Commission (CWC) amended and approved Agricultural Water Measurement Regulations developed by DWR staff under SBX7-7.  This was a tedious and time-consuming process, with the CWC’s Rules and Regulations Committee proposing amendments, the full Commission scrutinizing them, and public comments being taken.

But that wasn’t the end of it.  DWR submitted the approved regulations to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for final approval.  And the OAL said they would reject the entire regulation unless DWR removed a single phrase relating to agricultural measurement of deliveries by federal water contractors.  In fact, the OAL “strongly urged DWR to remove the entire provision regarding Central Valley Project contractors.”

These are emergency regulations currently undergoing public review, and DWR submitted them without the offending phrase in order to keep the process moving forward but left the rest of the CVP provision in place.

Commissioners being briefed at the July 20 meeting understood why staff took the action they did, but several commissioners clearly weren’t happy about it.  (Good job, they suggested, but don’t do it again.) Commissioner Cogdill commented that if the OAL has this kind of power, why not submit language before the Commission discusses a regulation?  Staff counsel replied that the OAL is not required to give preliminary advice.

Obscured by the discussion of process was the revelation that the Office of Administrative Law has apparently determined that SBX7-7 doesn’t apply to federal water suppliers in California.  An attorney representing Friant Water Authority argued that CVP contractors are already submitting measurement information to DWR and the Bureau of Reclamation.

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