WATER, WATER, WATER or the lack thereof is a major concern in California. The Governor’s Declaration of a State of Emergency on 17 Jan 14 triggered reactions supposedly designed to address drought issues at every level of government. Our Congressmen and Legislative representatives seem to be in a competition to determine who can be first to get legislation passed to save us from this terrible drought.
We cannot control our weather and there is no doubt that thus far we have seen a number of dry years. California climatic conditions have been tracked and studied for over a century. The collected data shows that for the most part California is an arid region prone to sometimes lengthy periods of drought punctuated with intense storms giving rise to severe flooding. Over the years we have managed to dam most of our rivers, create diversion canals and do just about everything known to man to control and impound every available drop of surface water.
However, most of the water flowing into California reservoirs comes from a very few watershed areas. When those areas experience dry periods the reservoirs will not fill. Sounds fairly basic; yet we continue to periods of panic every few years as these reservoirs do not fill. It is interesting to note that most of our reservoirs were actually constructed as flood control projects and perhaps a benefit to this period of intense activity will be the realization that we need to build some redundancy into our water control systems.
BEWARE! My deepest concern is government’s propensity for overreaction. Regulations and legislation passed in a panic situation rarely result in good outcomes and frequently have far reaching unanticipated consequences. With the State of Emergency Declaration legislation will be passed, safeguards will be waived, rights will be abrogated and another level of bureaucracy will be created. A quote from Winston Churchill seems appropriate; “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. An example is Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) reaction to our drought. In their letter of 6 Feb 14, FERC offers, among other things, the following: “In order to assist the licensees of hydropower projects in responding to the drought conditions, staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is prepared to act swiftly to review requests to amend licenses on a temporary or longer-term basis, as appropriate, in order to conserve water resources at FERC-licensed hydroelectric projects.” (read more) So….Does this mean all the agreements and regulations put in place during a relicensing project don’t count? Who knows? FERC’s action could have benefits to Lake Almanor and the 2105 Project or it could produce harmful results.
Plumas County has formed a Drought Task Force to address the current situation as it impacts Plumas County. Supervisor Terry Swofford and I are the Board of Supervisors representatives on this task force. I volunteered to participate in this effort because I want to be sure any actions Plumas County takes are well thought out and address real problems. Our first meeting is scheduled for Monday (10 Feb 14). As I write it is snowing with snow and rain predicted for the next 10 days. I am remembering February & March 2011; perhaps we will need to be shoveling snow and/or looking at flood conditions? Remember, dry periods and flooding periods are all part of the normal cycle in beautiful California!
Stay tuned for information as our task force moves forward.
At the Board of Supervisors meeting last Tuesday Plumas County took a step into the future. For the past few months we have been working on setting up a system to enable live streaming of Board meetings. Tuesday was a trial run to see if the system was working properly and enable our Information Technology (IT) folks to work out any glitches in the system. The meeting was recorded and is available on line at http://plumascoca.suiteonemedia.com/web/site.aspx. Please consider this a “dress rehearsal”.
This was our first attempt and, as you will see at the start, staff had some problems getting set up. The link should bring up the agenda on the right side of the screen and the video of the meeting on the upper left. Below the video are links to each of the agenda items. By clicking on that item of interest to you, you will be able to view that particular discussion. You can view the entire meeting if you wish.
Starting with the Board meeting on Tuesday (11 Feb) we will begin live streaming the meetings. Go to the Plumas County web site www.countyofplumas.com to view the meeting as it is taking place. IT tells me that they will have a button/link on the County website homepage that will take you directly to the meeting. The software we are using does not work with iPad, or some Smartphone applications but works well with most “windows” based software. We will continue to make improvements to the system to allow broader use as we become more adept in this “future” world.
With Supervisorial District 3 some 50 miles from Quincy, it is difficult for our residents to attend meetings. At last, we are now bringing the meetings home to you. It is my hope that the ability to view our meetings real time will allow you to view your County Government at work. Please contact me at Send email with any concerns, comments or suggestions.
As most of you know, I am seeking reelection for a third term as Plumas County Supervisor representing District 3. I am a fiscal conservative and as such feel it important to carefully manage County resources and the budget. My past two terms have been through very trying times in terms of the budget. We have consistently made the cuts necessary to maintain a balanced budget and live within our means. Some of these cuts have been difficult and painful for all involved. However, they were necessary and as a result have positioned Plumas County to survive where other local governments have resorted to draconian measures. I do not believe the times of dwindling revenue and higher costs are over.
One of the cuts we made eliminated our County Administrative Officer/Budget Officer. With this change Supervisors became the budget officers and worked closely with County Departments in formulating their operating budgets thus gaining in depth knowledge of County finance. I feel it is critically important that Plumas County Supervisors continue in a conservative path as we move into the next few years. I want to be part of that team.
There are many issues facing Plumas County and the Almanor Basin that, at this point, are a work in progress. The FERC re-licensing 2105 project has been in process since 2002 and appears about to enter a final phase. Water is one of our greatest commodities and with the drought declaration by Gov. Brown there will be a battle protecting our Area of Origin rights. U.S. Forest Service continues work on their travel management plan. We will need to be vigilant in protecting our rights to use and enjoy our public lands in the forest. I could fill pages with the list of issues facing us in the next few years; suffice to say they are many and varied.
I have long searched for a way to make information available to my constituents as things develop. I have used an email system in the past however it has many drawbacks. I cannot send to more than 99 email addresses per hour without being blocked as a spammer. Email addresses change and notices bounce. Rather than continuing to use my email list I am establishing this web site as a means of posting current, real time, information as well as background regarding current issues Plumas County is engaged in and more in-depth research and opinion from contributors.
I intend to maintain this web site through my next term and beyond. It is my hope you will check in often. Use the web site as a tool to become informed and involved. Use the “Contact” form to contact me with your concerns and questions.
I take very seriously my responsibility to represent you and thank you for allowing me to be your representative these past years.
Governor Jerry Brown declared a state drought emergency for California last week – California Governor Declares Drought. So far we are experiencing one of the driest winters on record following two dry years resulting in depleted reservoirs state wide. State officials were ordered to take all necessary actions to prepare for drought conditions. Gov. Brown called on all residents to reduce water usage by 20%.
As water becomes scarce issues of water rights will become more prominent. I have posted an excellent article by Brian Morris, Siskiyou County Council, and previously Plumas County Flood Control District Manager – WATER RIGHTS – Brian Morris. This article provides an excellent overview of water rights, who has them and what could preempt them.
Direct impacts of the drought and the Governor’s declaration on Plumas County and the Almanor Basin are as yet unknown. I will be posting information regarding water issues as they develop in the coming months.
Check The Almanor Post often for the latest news!
Life in a “Frontier” community presents many challenges. As a Plumas County Supervisor of seven years, with 15 years of devoted community service, I have been constantly frustrated by the difficulty encountered in communicating timely, in-depth information on subjects critical to my constituents throughout the Almanor Basin. I see The Almanor Post as a vehicle enabling me to make that information available to a wide audience, while receiving valuable input on the issues that confront us in our daily lives. It is this input that frames my decisions on your behalf.
It is not my intent to duplicate our local newspaper, the Chamber of Commerce or any other organizations’ work, but rather, to focus on a more in-depth perspective related to policy issues. In doing so, I urge you to take time to become more familiar with the issues confronting us and to question me where and when necessary. If I don’t have the answers, I will make every effort to find the information for you.
I will be using this venue to post the news that is “The News”, in the hope that it will provide all of you with the most up to date information available to me, at the time of posting.
This project will be a work in progress, indefinitely; revisit often!