You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours

Sponsors of the “meeting amenities” for the Plenary were consulting firms MWH, RMC, CH2M Hill, and Edelman. When the government doesn’t have tax money to pay for this kind of policy process, private entities come in to fill the breach. Special thanks went to the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) for their significant contributions to the Water Plan Technology Caucus and for hosting the reception on the first day of the Plenary.

The CCST is a non-profit established in 1988 by the state legislature in recognition that policy makers don’t always have expertise in science and technology. CCST is funded in part by grants from private foundations, including the Bechtel Foundation, which is not, however, part of the Bechtel Group, according to Plenary opening speaker Jude Laspa.

Laspa is Director of the Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation and a member of the California Council on Science and Technology. Among other items on his bio is the information that Laspa served as President of Bechtel Systems and Infrastructure, Inc., the Bechtel entity that does all of its government business.

(Incidentally, Laspa said that Stephen D. Bechtel Jr., now 80, wants to give away all his money for California wetland restoration and California water.)

The CCST includes academics from a variety of institutions and is promoting ideas like efficiency and reuse, remote sensing, groundwater recharge, and the water-energy nexus. All useful, but this is a reminder that not much gets done in the water world without public/private partnerships. And we need to keep an eye on them.

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