- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
A group of Contra Costa County citizens brought together yesterday by UC Cooperative Extension agreed that the state needs to improve water infrastructure to store more water, improve water conservation efforts and improve water management to mitigate problems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region.
Thursday's discussion was one in a series being held by the UCCE Community Water Conversations Project, which aims to provide California citizens with an opportunity to discuss and learn about water policy options in a facilitated, non-threatening and positive environment.
Many participants in Thursday's conversation believe the Delta water issue will reach a crisis point if efforts aren't made to strengthen infrastructure and promote conservation, according to an article in the San Ramon Patch. Political disillusionment is also a common feeling expressed by many forum participants, according to Jodi Cassell, natural resources advisor for the Contra Costa County Cooperative Extension.
"I think in this country, especially now, people are looking for ways on their own to know as much as they can about very complex issues because they don't feel they can go to governmental agencies to get what they need," Cassell was quoted in the newspaper article. "These conversations will hopefully guide them through a part of public policy as multi-faceted as this state's water usage and make them more engaged in the political process that drives it."
Craig Paterson, project manager and moderator of Thursday's forum, said the organizers wish to gather a range of opinions to share with policy makers that will inform decisions in which everybody wins. In January, project staff will finalize video and written reports on the forum's participants and their views.
In a UC Green Blog post, director of UC Cooperative Extension in Solano County Carole Paterson shared common themes that have emerged from a preliminary review of 10 water conversations that took place this year. The themes, she said, are:
- Frustration. People believe the public policy process is flawed.
- Education. People do not understand what is happening to their water. The issues are extremely complex and over the years, layer upon layer of legislation, lawsuits, court decisions and media reports have muddied the water.
- Science. People are concerned that science is being manipulated by various stakeholders to support a particular point of view.