Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Sunday, Jul. 7, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

When Jerry Brown pushed a major water plan through the Legislature during his first governorship, he violated one of the cardinal – albeit unspoken – rules of Capitol politics.

That maxim is that any major policy change must have virtually unanimous support from all stakeholders or those left out will use California’s many political and legal tools to block its implementation.

Brown ignored opposition from San Joaquin Valley farmers and environmental groups in winning legislative approval for a “peripheral canal” to carry Sacramento River water 43 miles around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the California Aqueduct near Tracy. And he was penalized for that lapse when opponents teamed up to defeat the plan in a 1982 referendum.

Brown, back in the governorship and hoping to settle some of the issues he left behind 30 years ago, is once again facing a situation that will test his acumen. And once again, it is the gap in the state’s water system that he attempted to fill with the peripheral canal.

Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Legislature created a complex mechanism to determine how the gap could be filled, and that process has spawned a twin-tunnel project to carry water under, rather than around, the Delta.

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