The Little Hoover Commission Releases Report on Statewide Water Management

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On August 26, 2010, the Little Hoover Commission released a report entitled "Managing for Change: Modernizing California's Water Governance." The Report urges Governor Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature to restructure the state's water administration to better coordinate key supply management and planning roles.

The Report states that California's water governance system has not changed in four decades and is now "obsolete", leaving the State "ill-positioned for the challenge of managing its water resources in an era of unpredictable supply, population growth and the legal and political reality that more water will have to be devoted to the environment." The report further recommends separating the State Water Project from the Department of Water Resources and creating a new Department of Water Management.

Finding that the Department of Water Resources' mission of managing existing water resources and planning for future needs is "at odds" with its separate mission of operating the State Water Project, the Report concludes: "[The State Water Project] no longer fits within the department built for its creation. To best serve the needs of its customers, and to serve California's broader flood protection, quality-of-life and environmental needs, the project should be relocated to a publicly owned special entity run by an independent board. This will allow the project to fulfill its mission and give the state's planning and management functions the autonomy to fulfill their equally important mission."

The new Department of Water Management would also assume functions currently performed by the Division of Water Rights, which is now part of the State Water Resources Control Board. The Department of Fish and Game's instream flow analysis unit would also move to the new Department of Water Management.

To view the Commission's report, click here.

Alfred E. Smith, II specializes in water, environmental and complex commercial litigation. He represents public and private water purveyors, major water users, corporations and public agencies on matters including environmental compliance, water rights disputes, conjunctive use, public utility regulation, groundwater management and litigation over allegedly contaminated water and soil. He can be reached at (213) 612-7800 or

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