Sunday, June 5, 2011

Six months at the Water District: a status report

I've now finished one-eighth of my term in office. At my web page you can see the issues that I've run on, and I thought I would report on them and other issues at the District.

Mercury: the District continues to work on existing mercury problems, with funding moving ahead. The idea I have for state legislation on Extended Producer Responsibility on mercury hasn't gone beyond discussion stage. So far. I figure it will take a while, and I'm still working on it.

The District as an environmental champion: on the two big issues of continued work on environmental enhancements and on watchdog work to protect streams, both are moving forward. The District continues to work on its Three Creeks Habitat Conservation Plan (although I am worried about how much the planning is costing), as is the multi-agency County Habitat Plan. There hasn't been new money spent on Clean Safe Creeks environmental enhancement, although existing projects have continued to operate, such as the opening of a major tidal pond off of Alviso.

The other major environmental development is a budget of a half-time employee to make sure development is not violating guidelines for land use near streams.

Greater public transparency and control: I think this is the area where we've made the most progress. The Board established an Ad-hoc committee to improve our work with advisory committees. I was appointed to the committee and made its chair. We've completed our work in just a few meetings to propose significant improvements in increasing advisory committee involvement with the District Board, ability to channel recommendations, and flexibility with agenda.

We've had some progress on involvement with other groups, like the new Friends of Adobe Creek group and helpful work by the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce on emergency access to Alviso. I would like to see more progress here.

We've held a number of evening meetings and will hold at least one a month, starting in July. It's an experiment, and if it works then we can expand it. Obviously, I continue to stand by my promise of no more than two terms in office. I and the other Directors made clear that the Redistricting Committee isn't limited on what district boundaries it can choose, although it would be inappropriate for us to bias their selection. I continue to be interested in changing the Board's structure to be more like a City Council, and as part of that, the Board will consider my suggestion of reversing the pay raise it gave itself, to be considered this August.

So overall, I think there's been significant progress. I wish it could be faster, and I'll keep working on it, but still I believe it's going well.


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