Water in Southern California

by Ronald Gastelum and Gilbert Ivey

The worsening economic crisis and the continuing threat of climate change means the country will be getting back to basics. Major public and private sector investments will be needed in water, energy, and transportation to spur the economy and “green” our aging water and power infrastructure.

Priority will be given for public investments in new technology and management systems that promote conservation and the production of renewable energy and water supplies; but it is clear that there will not be sufficient public resources to finance all the work that needs to be done. Private capital will potentially provide the majority of funding needed for planned solar, wind, bio-fuel and geothermal production facilities, plus the new transmission and other infrastructure needed to distribute to market.

Business and government leaders in every field have an interest in making sure that government establishes policies that give incentives to the private sector to do its part to finance, permit, build and operate these facilities. Now is the time for Southern California Leadership Network (SCLN) participants and alumni to use the networks and training provided by SCLN to get involved to positively impact these policies.

But how do you get involved? The first step is to simply resolve that you are going to follow the debate, as reported in the news media, on the major government decisions that will be made over the next several years on national, state, and local water, energy, and transportation policies. For example, here in California, a critical decision will be made in the next several years on a Peripheral Canal to move water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (pictured right) affecting most of California’s population and agricultural industry. Critical decisions will also be made on where to locate new electrical energy transmission lines over the objections of local residents and open space advocates that will determine the long-term cost and availability of renewable solar and wind energy for the state’s major cities.

Once the importance of these decisions is understood, the next step is to communicate your interest to legislators and friends. That level of commitment alone makes you a relevant player in the outcome. To amplify your interest, try asking your homeowners’ association, business trade organization, or other affiliation to make these issues a priority for their members to understand and hopefully advocate your informed position.

Guest blogger Ronald Gastelum is Attorney at Law at SunCal Companies, and guest blogger Gilbert Ivey is Assistant General Manager and Chief Administrative Officer of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.