Dorothy’s Law

About 125 people came out to the beach at Santa Monica Pier on a cloudy Sunday to share their favorite Dorothy Green stories. Some people came as far as San Francisco, Sun Valley and Denver to reminisce about Dorothy’s amazing achievements, tireless work ethic, big heart, and sense of humor. The County Lifeguards paid tribute to Dorothy, the founding president of Heal the Bay who passed away in October, as one of their own with a boat offshore and Capt. Angus Alexander’s inspirational words at the podium.

Any event with Dorothy had to include an environmental action and her memorial was no different. Paula Daniels, Conner Everts and I put together a version of “Dorothy’s Law”: a common-sense legislative solution to California’s dysfunctional water supply management.

The text was based on Dorothy’s last editorial in the Los Angeles Times. Every visitor at the memorial was asked (actually, required) to sign the request for Dorothy’s Law, and now the environmental community will forward it to the state legislature and the Governor’s office. Hopefully some elected leader will follow Dorothy’s advice to move us towards sustainable water supply management.

The text of the request for Dorothy’s Law is included below. I encourage you to forward it to anyone you think may have influence over California’s water supply policy. Do it for California and do it for Dorothy.

—– Dorothy’s Law —–

Dorothy Green’s last act was an editorial outlining her recommendations to improve water management in California. In memory of Dorothy we call upon the state to create Dorothy’s Law through the following water policy recommendations. Water supply sources from the Colorado River and within the state are approaching record lows, given the current conditions of global warming. The ecological collapse of the San Francisco Bay Delta heightens the legal and regulatory restrictions of water allocations. Land use development continues disconnected from sustainable water supplies. Current bond proposals are geared to fund dams and canals, which is a supply option from the past. These are the very policies that combined with wasting water, got us to where we are today, which is a looming water crisis. By putting first things first, Dorothy’s priorities to manage water will bring us forward to the 21st century.

We call upon the State of California to sufficiently fund the State Water Resources Control Board so that it can do its duty effectively. We call upon the State Water Resources Control Board to:

  • Create a meaningful structure for water rights which will conduct a review of past water-rights decisions to bring them in line with existing supplies, and allocate water according to the public trust doctrine.
  • Call for an end to federal subsidies for water-intensive crops. Instead, let the free market control pricing for those types of crops.
  • Conduct an exhaustive and critical review of water transfers.
  • Set mandatory statewide conservation targets for all water uses.
  • Develop a sustainable water plan with enforcement mechanisms, to include financial penalties and operating restrictions, as well as an independent and public biennial assessment of the plan’s implementation.
  • Develop a steady revenue stream to improve water rights and enforcement system.
  • The sustainable water plan should:
    1. Demand an allocation of water rights based on available supply
    2. implement a ban on discharging wastewater into our drinking water supplies unless it meets public health standards
    3. meter every water use throughout the state
    4. require e use of recycled water throughout the state
    5. mandate low-impact development for all projects, including transportation
    6. fast-track a groundwater cleanup program.

——–

Dorothy understood the need to modernize water policy and management in California, and her recommendations, as stated here, can form the foundation of a new direction for California water policy in the 21st century.

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