We produced a couple of stories for the Jan. 2 edition that we thought covered the most significant topics of the previous year. One was entirely conspicuous: the Camp Fire – its devastation and the multitude of issues it brought with it, from electrical utility operations to evacuation strategies to forest conditions.
We’ll be dealing with the consequences of the Camp Fire (as well as the Cascade Fire and all the other wildfires of the past couple of years) for years. Things won’t be the same.
The other story of the year was, perhaps, less conspicuous ... it has to do with water, the life’s blood for the West and North California, and how a bunch of people with different notions of what’s right came together.
This past year was the 10th anniversary of the Yuba River Accord.
At least in the West, when it comes to water, there is almost always some contention.
But the battle over local water usage was calmed considerably, if not obliterated, by the Accord, with 18 different stakeholders reaching agreement a decade ago, delineating benefits each would get and the water they were entitled to. It came after decades of court battles. Most of that was put to rest in May 2008.
The Accord represented such a rarity – a diversity of advocates, many of whom had been adversaries, deciding to get along and make an agreement work – that it was lauded for doing so much, improving conditions for fish, reducing flood risks, protecting irrigation rights and water supply.
Those parties that signed on included the Yuba Water Agency, Department of Water Resources, National Marine Fisheries, The Bay Institute, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Friends of the River, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Trout Unlimited, South Yuba River Citizens League, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Brophy Water District, South Yuba Water District, Wheatland Water District, Dry Creek Mutual Water Company, Ramirez Water District, Hallwood Irrigation Co, and Browns Valley Irrigation District.
Curt Aikens, general manager of the agency, laid it out: without the Accord they’d have been defending themselves in court. They’d have lost time, money and focus.
Water issues in the West are always clouded over with attitude based on stereotyping: federal agencies lord it over farmers; farmers disregard the law; local agencies never look at the big picture; environmentalists are entirely self-centered ...
Those are all attitudes adapted after decades of contention, where one entity hopes to win out over another entity.
The Accord proved that does not have to be the case any longer.
Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal-Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.