Department of Water Resources
California’s Department of Water Resources oversees much of the water system inside the state. Going back decades, they have measured and calculated the amount of snowfall and runoff from the state’s mountain ranges. They participate with federal agencies in the management of surface reservoirs for water storage, flood protection, and hydroelectric generation of power.
They need that power to transport water through lift pumps and aqueducts into the upper reaches of the San Joaquin Valley and up the steep climb over the Tehachapi Mountains and into the Los Angeles Basin. While they are certainly concerned with the quantity and quality delivery of surface water supplies, they do not manage the sub-surface aquifer or the San Francisco Bay-Delta. This state (unlike most others) does not have a sub-surface water management plan in place, backed by regulation. Some say this allows a well-known Mark Twain quote to be used to describe ongoing discord— “Whiskey’s for drinkin’ and water’s for fightin’.”
Perhaps the greatest contrast between the duties of this agency and the state’s governing apparatus is that unregulated hydraulic fracturing continues in the southern portions of the state and unlined surface ponds of chemically-laced fluids and 2,500 deep fracking wastewater disposal wells continue to threaten underground water supplies. Such responsibilities reside in the wheelhouse of the state’s Department of Oil and Gas, but there are no regulations that serve as a “playbook” for that agency. The “Halliburton Loophole” (carving out an exception to EPA rules during the George W. Bush Administration) may have much to do with this situation.