Update on the Water Board Hearings

UPDATE: Our STCDA motion to “stay” the Water Board Hearings caused those hearings to be delayed twice. The meetings are now “scheduled” to start February 8.

Why did STCDA file a “stay” to keep the Water Board Hearings from starting? If you missed it, STCDA filed a Public Records Action for the Department of Water Resources to give us the documents from their secret meetings, nine of which were allegedly held over the thirteen months that the Water Board Part I Hearings were underway. The DWR recently said they would get the meeting materials to our lawyer, Michael Brodsky, early this week, so that means pretty soon we should see something.

What is the Water Board doing about the complaint? Well, the Water Board has yet to respond to our motion. When they first received the motion, they put off the start of the Part 2 hearings (then scheduled to start January 18) in order to give themselves time to think about it. Then they gave themselves another short extension, putting off the start of the hearing a few more days—until presently scheduled February 8. They may issue a ruling tomorrow (Tuesday February 6th) or Wednesday (the 7th) giving themselves another extension, or they may issue a final ruling on the motion.

Our take on it is that the allegations in the motion are very difficult for them to ignore. To any impartial observer, reading the motion, it does seem like the Water Board has really acted improperly. They are trying to figure out how to answer the allegations of improper ex-parte contacts and being far too cozy with the DWR by reviewing the DWR’s evidence in advance and coaching the DWR on what evidence it needed to present. It is that answer that is taking them time to devise. They may answer by disqualifying one or more staff persons who participated in the ex-parte meetings, while leaving the rest of the process going forward essentially in tact. Or they may answer by trying to explain that they did nothing wrong, perhaps citing some exceptions in the Administrative Procedure Act for Water Board ex-parte communications.

They will have to issue some formal answer to the motion before the hearings start up again, so we are looking forward to seeing something newsworthy from the Water Board before Thursday, February 8th.

For the background story, see: Breaking News – WaterFix Hearings Rigged.

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