Cynthia Koehler is Senior Consulting Attorney for EDF.
With Delta processes abounding, this is the question with which California's premier water protection agency has begun to grapple. At yesterday's hearing, the Board explored how its activities can best assist or complement the BDCP, Delta Vision and other processes. There appears to be near-universal agreement about the need to coordinate, integrate, and work together, although various witnesses confirmed that the Board's job – as trustee for the state's aquatic resources – is complex and difficult.
Just about 25 years after the State Supreme court declared that California's water rights system and the public trust doctrine are parts of "an integrated system of water law," and more than 20 years after a Court of Appeal directed the Board to adopt comprehensive protections for the Bay-Delta estuary, there appears to no clear consensus about exactly what this means, at least in terms of how the public trust doctrine may affect water rights in the Bay-Delta watershed.
It is also unclear whether the Board presently has all of the resources it needs to tackle the complex problems over which it has jurisdiction.