|Budget Issue:||Proposed elimination of the Colorado River Board (CRB)|
|Program:||Colorado River Board|
|Finding or Recommendation:||Approve Governor’s May Revision proposal to eliminate the CRB.|
The Proposal. The Governor’s May Revision proposes eliminating the CRB as part of a larger initiative to streamline state government. The administration argues that CRB's duties are better carried out by a local entity that represents the interests of the water agencies that are currently represented on the board.
Department of Interior Contracts Directly with Local Water Agencies in California on Colorado River Water Allocations. We find that California is unique among the western states that are allocated Colorado River water in that the US Department of the Interior (DOI) has signed contracts with the individual local water agencies in the state, as opposed to with the state directly, to determine water allocations. In all other Colorado River Basin states, DOI contracts directly with each state. Because the contracts are with the individual agencies, the need for California state representation in Colorado River negotiations may be lesser relative to other basin states, and the CRB has informed us that there is no legal requirement for California state involvement in Colorado River negotiations.
LAO Recommendation. Although CRB is entirely funded by reimbursements from its member agencies, there are some state administrative savings to be gained from eliminating it, and as such, we support this proposal. While there may be some advantages (perception-wise) to having a state agency as a negotiator on Colorado River issues, we do not think that, on balance, any potential risks from eliminating the direct state role would outweigh the savings from this proposal so as to recommend that it be denied.