My current water policy hammer is the “not fer fightin’ over” meme – the idea that the apocryphal Mark Twain quote is wrong, not because he didn’t say it, but because much of what is most interesting about western water policy involves the places where people find solve water problems with negotiated compromise rather than affray.
The latest nail for my current hammer is this story from the Imperial Valley Press, about efforts to come up with a compromise in an argument about how to account for water the Imperial Irrigation District. The Bureau of Reclamation is playing the adult in the room, telling the municipal and ag water agencies to find a compromise solution to their problem or the Bureau will find one for them:
The letter to the IID and other water agencies basically says that the bureau is aware that it needs to account for the water released into the Salton Sea, but it’s going to defer making that accounting decision while talks continue, said IID General Manager Kevin Kelley. The bureau could come back if the talks break down and require IID to make up for that water released.
So someone else settles the dispute by displaying a big gun? Something in your reasoning scans not.
No, USBR isn’t settling it. It’s telling them they have to settle it for themselves. And so far they seem to be trying, rather than resorting to fighting. This seems to be one of the characteristics of the “not fightin'” case studies – that there’s some looming bad outcome that causes people to solve instead of fight.
A bit of fighting.