Careful filling water director job

Jim Brobeck is a local environmentalist and member of the Lassen Forest Preservation Group

Ed Craddock will soon be leaving his position as director of Butte County’s Department of Water and Resource Conservation. Ed’s jovial personality and professional skills opened some doors to public participation in what are extremely complex technical decisions. Ed’s previous position with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) gave him a seasoned view of the way water moves from North to South in this state. Given the pivotal role Lake Oroville has in the state water supply, perhaps his DWR expertise was appropriate. The process of re-licensing Oroville Dam and the failure of the reservoir to bring promised prosperity to the region seems to have awakened the realization that we need to look out for Butte County’s interests when dealing with the State Water Project.

As California developers focus a thirsty gaze upon Northstate groundwater it is apparent that Butte County must assume the leadership required to bolster the economic promise that can only be fulfilled with a stable and healthy aquifer. As the county administration moves toward choosing Mr. Craddock’s successor I urge the decision-makers to select a qualified person who has no affiliation with the California DWR, Westlands Water District, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District nor any other water purveyors.

The DWR sees Northern California as an area of origin of water for the rest of the state. The DWR has impaired the economic stability and robust ecological complexity of Northern California by integrating surface water into the statewide supply. The agency will certainly be willing to draw from our groundwater as much as we are willing to concede. Once such a precedent is established it will be impossible to recover control of our aquifer. The next director of Water and Resource Conservation will play a pivotal role in the future of the aquifer. The next director must be loyal to the interests of Butte County and circumspect in negotiating with the DWR.

An unhurried, methodical approach to expanding Butte County’s contribution into the state water system is not probable if our next director of Water and Resource Conservation is a DWR alumnus.