Vote for Randall Crane PhD for Director, MWDOC Division 5
US Rep Katie Porter
CA State Senator Dave Min
Democratic Party of OC
The Municipal Water District of OC is the most important local government you never heard of.
This agency, aka MWDOC, provides half OC's water. All sources are mega climate-stressed. It needs to rapidly pivot. You elect its leaders.
Water is life and climate change is changing life as usual. Only informed planning will protect our lifestyles and manage water rates.
What it does: The Municipal Water District imports half OC's water from the despairingly dry Sierras and Colorado River, experiencing their worst megadrought in 1,200 years -- and facing twice as likely megastorms predicted to flood dams and waterways.
Make OC healthy and prepared.
The Municipal Water District has one job: Import water to Orange County from the increasingly climate-starved Sierras and Colorado River.
Low profile or not, MWDOC is OC's climate change battleground.
I am a 4th generation Californian and 1st generation college graduate. My PhD is from MIT. Marta and I have raised our 2 boys in Irvine since 1990. They're big now!
A policy scholar, water consultant and UCLA professor, I worked on complex water challenges worldwide. I taught water management to a generation of graduate water students.
We can be grateful for the good track records of most local water governments, enforced by smart environmental laws and excellent staff. But we cannot rely exclusively on the engineering mindset that built our thirsty communities.
Fresh, collaborative, and diverse expertise are key to ensuring a safe, reliable, and sustainable water future.
1. Are OC water sources secure over both the long and short term? What is your evidence? If not, how will your district respond?
2. Earlier this year the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California hired a Chief of Sustainability, Resiliency and Innovation “to implement an aggressive agenda to reduce its carbon footprint and strengthen its resiliency to climate change”.
She has since said the entire SoCal water sector needs to quickly retool and catch up to deal with rapid climate change, an area where it has fallen behind with potentially dire consequences.
Have OC water districts followed suit? How will your district prioritize climate-change action planning going forward? Does it promote a climate action plan now? If not, why not?
3. Virtually all OC water districts have elected directors. Given the low profile of these races — and the low visibility of their influence over the OC water supply crisis — incumbents are reelected or run unopposed 99% of the time, leading many to serve decades.
What is your position on term limits for elected water directors, as exist for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, most city councils, and CA state legislators?
Do you feel there should be more turnover on water boards, to provide fresh thinking, more varied expertise, and develop new leadership — and if so, how would that be feasible in lieu of term limits?
4. A complementary strategy to increasing water supply is demand management, to encourage conservation. Which demand management strategies do you favor for your water district?
5. Should all OC water districts adopt tiered rates to encourage conservation in the face of the higher cost of diminishing water supplies?
6. Given heightened public concerns over the future of SoCal water supplies (the #1 environmental concern of residents per PPIC 2022), how might your district improve communications to address those concerns?
7. Many OC water districts oppose SB 1157 (Hertzberg), which lowers per capita indoor water use standards, at least in part by claiming it may ultimately hobble OC efforts to recycle more water. (Water must be used before it is reused.)
Is water conservation an obstacle for increased reliance on recycled water, or can both goals be reconciled? That is, are there limits to how much your district will promote water conservation in the face of its worst drought in 1200 years?
8. Recyled waste and storm runoff water is growing as an OC water source, especially for recharging the north county water basin -- which has not been adjudicated.
Going forward, what is your position on sharing north county aquifers and recycling with south county districts now almost completely dependent on climate-stressed imports?
9. Should the OC Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO) further explore if there are core function redundancies between its two water wholesalers, importer MWDOC and groundwater agency OCWD? They both sell the same product across most of the same parts of the county, if sourced differently. Should they explore merging?
If so, both agencies must engage the process. What would encourage MWDOC — the much smaller agency, whose role is possibly diminishing with falling supplies — to participate? What then are the best next steps?
10. In a recent study (MWDOC 2022), many of the city and water district members of the Municipal Water District of OC felt they were better described as ‘customers’ rather than ‘members' of the water wholesaler, given their limited or nonexistent agency within the agency.
Do you agree or disagree, and what is the meaning of the distinction? If you agree, do you believe that relationship should change? How?
I taught at UC Irvine before appointed Professor at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Policy and the UCLA Institute of the Environment. I was Visiting Professor at Harvard, Visiting Senior Scholar at the World Resources Institute, Fulbright Professor at El Colegio de México, and an active water management consultant.
Among these projects, my team designed structural governance reforms for the problematic water system of the San Francisco Bay Area -- at the request of the State of California.
Not unlike MWDOC, San Francisco imports hundreds of millions of gallons of water daily hundreds of miles (from the Sierra's Hetch Hetchy). It mostly wholesales that to more than 2 million people in 29 other Bay Area governments.
MWDOC resells its imports to 27 Orange County retail water agencies, who resell it again to more than 2 million residents.
The good news is MWDOC is far more democratic -- if you vote.
Unlike SF or the San Diego County Water Authority (3+ million people) or the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (19+ million), MWDOC has its own elected Board of Directors from across the county. However, that leadership is too invisible for such urgent public health issues.
You control MWDOC leadership directly with your vote.
Vote for smarter long term planning.
For the World Bank, I pursued water equity reform in Jakarta Indonesia and Sana'a & Taiz Yemen, and city planning reform in Vietnam. I worked for the Harvard University Institute of International Development on water and national fiscal policy in Indonesia and Kenya.
I also studied water in Mexico (now running short of its share of the Colorado River, a possible harbinger of things to come here) and Thailand.
I gave more than two dozen invited talks in China, Korea, the Philippines and the UK on urbanization pressures on public resources and finances. I recently worked with the OECD and Asian Development Bank on incorporating equity into national sustainability.
Beyond these projects, I taught water governance and management to decades of graduate students at UCI and UCLA.
I publish widely on urban development and governance. (I am cited in peer-reviewed publications nearly 6,000 times.) I was editor-in-chief of the flagship Journal of the American Planning Association and am co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning.
I am an active member of the Board of Directors of the solar power advocacy nonprofit OC Goes Solar. We partner with the City of Irvine to run its Solarize Irvine campaign, helping residents afford and produce their own power.
A special KPIX CBS SF Bay Area report on California's changing climate and the ongoing drought across the Golden State -- including water supplies.