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Comment on the Racial Equity Action Plan October 19, 2022

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JOBS/HELP WANTED

By Don A. Wright

The State Water Resources Control Board is looking to implement a Racial Equity Action Plan. There are some very big problems with this plan. It is based on the Marxist Critical Race Theory. When you hear equity instead of equality that’s a clue people will be divided by skin color – white people are oppressors and people who are not white are oppressed. Does that sound like bombastic click bait?

Want real bombastic? Take a look at the language used in Resolution 2021-0050. Go to page two and see what it has to say about white supremacy. This is the resolution adopted by the State Board last year that led to the creation of a draft Racial Equity Action Plan. There will be a public comment session at 5:00pm on Wednesday, October 19th held in person in Sacramento and online with Zoom. Written responses are due by 5pm Friday October 24th. There is information and links on how to comment on this plan at the end of this report.

Why Comment

There are increasing calls by elected officials, academia, state regulators and non-governmental organizations to reorder the state’s water rights with the goal to remove all private ownership and transfer control of water rights to the government. To do so through the courts would be a massive legal battle and probably drag on for decades. To try to push through a taking of private property rights on this scale through the legislature would also be such a heavy lift as to surely bog down. But what about regulatory increments? A little slice here, a nibble there and eventually bureaucracy can swallow you whole.

I have been saying when you add a prefix to justice you have perverted the meaning. Social justice, environmental justice, racial justice. Something is just or it isn’t. Adding social to the term justice is meant to provide cover for whatever goal is being pursued. Whether or not the goal is to remedy an injustice or provide special interests benefits, it is blurred in the name of social justice. This how they silence dissent, because to oppose racial equity sounds like you support racism. No one wants to be called a racist. But racial equity is racism – it divides people by their skin color. So even if they call you bad names speak the truth.

Some Suggested Comments

You know something is wrong but you don’t always know how to address it. One thing to keep in mind at all times is to treat others as you’d like to be treated. Rants and obscenities won’t get the message across to the men and women at the State Board. That part I understand, but I’ve asked some folks who I respect what comments will be the most impactful. Here are some suggested considerations.

The plan states the Board will neither adopt or deny the Racial Equity Action Plan. That is the opposite of transparency and accountability and a complete dereliction of responsibility by the Board. It gives staff an unreasonable amount of discretion in action when implementing the plan. By not adopting the plan there is no authority for staff to implement the plan without approval by the Board and there is no way to challenge the plan before the State Board. The REAP states it’s a living document that can be modified and adjusted over time. To make matters worse there are several undefined directives like – “apply a racial equity lens” to the work of the board in its decisions regarding hiring and administering water rights; “centering the Water Boards’ work and decision-making on BIPOC communities”; “undertake a retroactive equity analyses of programs and policies to establish a baseline”; and “align their programs and practices to advance racial equity.” What does any of that mean?

The REAP needs at least some clear process to be implemented or amended, but that can’t happen if the State Board doesn’t adopt it.

The REAP claimed it conducted significant outreach but it doesn’t mention it excluded groups requesting to take part in the plan’s development. I heard California Farm Bureau’s Danny Merkley ask for a seat at that table. There are Groundwater Sustainability Agencies tasked with managing groundwater resources for DACs, disadvantaged communities made up of majority BIPOC people. That’s Black, Indigenous, People Of Color. On a side note, we’re all, every last man, woman and child indigenous and people of color and the term is a social construct. Were any of the GSAs allowed to participate in any of the visioning, strategizing or outreach decisions?

REAP lists as a goal the State Board’s actions in the development of programs and policies to be centered on racial equity and protecting BIPOC communities. This is a problem not because BIPOC communities don’t deserve water but because it is imperative during extreme drought and the increased regulatory response such a situation creates that the State Board stays focused, centered if you will, on its actual mission to preserve water for the protection of the environment, public health and the other beneficial uses. Without the accountability and balanced input REAP could easily work its way into a position to override the programs, policies and actual mission of the State Board and that is a recipe for statewide collapse of the economy, environment and society that depends on water, which is everyone everywhere in California.

One of the most questionable goals in REAP is to create new instream flow requirements to protect BIPOC communities. How does that work?  REAP doesn’t tell. There’s no explanation how keeping water from being diverted for beneficial use is going to help anyone. Letting it flow on down stream doesn’t provide water to support small community water systems many DACs rely on for their domestic use. It doesn’t provide recharge to help the wells of BIPOC folk or the quality of the water they use.

Such new regulatory requirements protecting BIPOC communities will reduce the surface water supplies in systems already fully appropriated or dependent on state and/or federal contract deliveries. The supply for existing water rights holders will be cut back. The consequences of that would be hard on a disadvantaged BIPOC community like Orange Cove that depends on most of its water supply from diverted waters of the San Joaquin River. Another bad consequence would be trying to make the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act work. For SGMA to reach compliance and sustainability for BIPOC as well as any other community there has to be a reliable source of surface water. Again, without the transparency and accountability of the State Board’s approval REAP is heading in the direction of harming the very communities it purports to benefit.

If you don’t agree with unelected officials giving staff free rein with our state’s water rights based on a theory developed by Marxist you need to speak and make your opinion known.

How to Comment

To participate in the public comment session at 5:00pm on Wednesday, October 19th held in person in Sacramento and online with Zoom: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/board_info/calendar/docs/2022/oct/notice_reap_101922.pdf

To participate in the Zoom meeting you must fill out a form and you will receive an email with a password:https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=JWoY_kl95kGZQQXSKB02weg4rYkfcKhCndB36MtnJ6FUODI0WU00SUtaMjc4N1BFTUVYTThWNUw2My4u

Written responses are due by 5pm Monday October 24th and can be sent by email: commentletters@waterboards.ca.gov or regular mail:

Clerk to the Board, Ms. Jeanine Townsend

State Water Resources Control Board

P.O. Box 997377, MS 7400

Sacramento, CA 95899-7377

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