«© 2006 William Blomquist ABSTRACT Water resources must be governed before they can be managed, and the crafting of governance institutions is an ...»
Goodcell 1961: 3) In addition, the approach was criticized for introducing further uncertainty into California’s law of water rights. Efforts to apply the Raymond Basin approach as an institutional formula largely succeeded in the Central and West basins, but failed in the San Fernando and Mojave basins (Blomquist 1992).
Amending the Raymond Basin Constitution. On certain occasions, Raymond Basin users have modified the judgment to alter the management program or to reconstitute the basin governance system. The first modification, based on observed changes in basin conditions, was to the safe yield determination. Underground water levels throughout Raymond Basin rose through 1950 and held steady through 1955, despite ten years of drought and increased total water use. Late in 1950, Pasadena returned to court filed a motion for a review of the original judgment's safe yield determination. The court granted the motion and appointed the Division of Water Resources to make the review.
The Division filed its report in October 1954, containing a revision of the safe yield estimate to nearly 31,000 acre-feet, and recommending (after a small allowance for nonparties) that the decreed rights of the parties be increased to 30,622 acre-feet. The court issued a Modification of Judgment on April 29, 1955, increasing the decreed rights of the parties proportionately to a total of 30,622 acre-feet.
A second major modification involved basin replenishment. The original judgment made no provision for artificial replenishment of the basin with conserved or imported water supplies. However, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (formerly the Flood Control District) operates water spreading grounds on each of the surface streams in Raymond Basin -- the Arroyo Seco, the Eaton Wash, and Santa Anita Creek. In addition to these county operations, several Raymond Basin parties conduct water spreading operations -- the Kinneloa Irrigation District, the Las Flores Water Company, the Lincoln Avenue Water Company, the Rubio Canyon Land and Water Association, and the cities of Pasadena and Sierra Madre. Actions taken by these parties benefit all Raymond Basin water producers. In order to maintain an incentive for these parties to engage in spreading, parties modified the Raymond Basin Judgment in 1974 to allow pumping credits for spreading. Under the modification, the Watermaster determines each year the amount of water diverted for spreading, and the county Department of Public Works provides a statement of the amounts actually spread. Each party engaged in spreading is allowed in the following year to extract up to 80 percent of the amount credited to it, in addition to the its decreed right under the judgment.
In 1984, a third major modification to the Raymond Basin judgment reconstituted the basin governance system. Around the time of the 1974 Modification of Judgment, water users in the neighboring Main San Gabriel and Chino basins were developing a new form of watermaster organization. Instead of relying on the state Department of Water Resources as Watermaster, users in these basins selected multi-member watermasters composed of water users or their representatives, and dedicated to a more active approach to managing basin water conditions. After several years of consideration, the parties to the Raymond Basin judgment decided to change the basin governance structure. They returned to court and obtained a Modification of Judgment on March 16, 1984, replacing the Department of Water Resources as Watermaster with the Raymond Basin Management Board, successor to the Raymond Basin Advisory Board.
The 10-member Management Board, made up of Raymond Basin water users, operates generally by consensus, with the continuing jurisdiction of the court available for decisions in the event of future controversies. The board uses the offices of the Foothill Municipal Water District in La Canada-Flintridge for meetings and as a mailing address, and the General Manager of the District serves as the Assistant SecretaryTreasurer for the board and provides ongoing staff support. These arrangements economize on administrative costs of the board's Watermaster functions.
Although the California Department of Water Resources is no longer the Raymond Basin Watermaster, the Raymond Basin Management Board has retained the services of the Department under contract for preparation of the annual report and for other support services as required. Under this arrangement, the state of California no longer subsidizes the cost of the Watermaster service. The parties to the Raymond Basin judgment pay all costs of the Watermaster service.
Beyond Raymond Basin. The Raymond Basin case is but one example of the crafting of institutional arrangements by water users in California. Since then, through court judgments and the creation of additional public and private organizations, water users have apportioned rights to the flows of a number of rivers and streams in the state (e.g., the San Gabriel, Santa Ana, Santa Margarita, and Carmel rivers) and developed groundwater basin management and governance arrangements (e.g., the West, Central, Main San Gabriel, San Fernando, Mojave River Valley, Warren Valley, Puente, and Seaside basins). The Antelope Valley and Santa Maria Valley groundwater basins are currently in the midst of institutional creation processes.
The arrangements that have been developed in these locations over the past sixty years vary considerably. The actions in the San Gabriel and Santa Ana River watersheds, and especially the Coastal Plain basins in Los Angeles and Orange counties, indicate that even in physically similar, neighboring basins facing similar threats over the same period, individuals can develop substantially different yet workable responses. Drawing upon the influences of Vincent Ostrom’s work, let us consider some of the factors that contributed to successful institutional design and creation.
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Intentionality and Problem Solving. Understanding institutional development and change entails thinking about institutional arrangements as the deliberate creations of human beings oriented toward some purpose or purposes and operating at multiple levels of action. Human beings are conceived here are acting intentionally to try to solve problems. Social scientists must develop an understanding of the intentions of actors, and in so doing must find ways to take into account actors' statements of their intentions without being taken in by them. Human subjects are not just engaged in social behavior.
They are engaged in self-conscious social behavior. Human beings, except when engaged in reflexive or purely habitual behavior, tend to be engaged simultaneously in acting, analyzing their actions, and trying to explain their actions. This is especially the case when people are engaged in more challenging endeavors that require interpersonal communication and coordination.
The southern California cases provide examples of individuals who worked for years (sometimes decades) to develop and implement basin governance structures and management systems. These individuals frequently and repeatedly attempted to articulate what they were trying to do, how successful their efforts were, what impeded their progress, and when they erred. The attorneys who worked in several of the cases -such as Kenneth Wright, James Krieger, Arthur Littleworth, Donald Stark, and Susan Trager -- have written descriptions and evaluations of the arrangements worked out in the basins. Likewise, engineers and geologists such as Harvey Banks, Max Bookman, John Mann, and Thomas Stetson, have contributed several addresses and writings reflecting on the governance and management systems, the reasoning behind them, and how they have performed. Association members, board members, district managers, and other participants -- such as Carl Fossette, Ben Haggott, Alfred Jorgensen, Mel Blevins, and Duncan Blackburn -- have written, testified, spoken at conferences, etc., about their experiences, accomplishments, and frustrations in devising the institutional arrangements in the cases presented here. What is common to, and on display in, all of these commentaries is the intentions of the actors to come to grips with situations that they perceived to be problematic, to explore possible solutions using available institutional tools, and to invent new tools in some instances where needed or desired.
Communication and Deliberation. In settings such as these, human beings are engaged in collective problem solving. Interaction between individuals in such circumstances can be constructive ("two heads are better than one") or confounding ("too many cooks spoil the broth"). In any given collective problem-solving situation, a considerable proportion of the process will be devoted to reconciling alternatives or choosing among them.
Communication therefore becomes essential for disseminating information and signaling intentions in collective problem-solving situations. Yet, communication also is a source of difficulties: it cannot be assumed that communication is immediate, perfect, and without cost. In the water resource arena, empirical observation has established that the "first response in most areas to some type of water problem is the creation of a water association to provide a forum for discussion" (Coe 1986: 15).
An Institutionally-Rich Environment. Institutional arrangements developed and experiences accrued in the course of collective action are important components of a community's social capital. When first confronted with a change in their conditions and circumstances, or with an incompletely understood problem, individuals can be expected to engage in limited search of the environment (including the recent past as well as similar or familiar situations in the present). In so doing, they draw upon previously created instruments and procedures for the gathering, classifying and storing, disseminating and retrieving, and pooling information. The information developed about their own problem, and any innovation in the means by which they acquired it, then constitute additions to the set of instruments and procedures for gathering, classifying and storing, and disseminating and retrieving, information.
As their understanding of the problem they confront improves, individuals may attempt to design new institutional arrangements for ordering their relations with each other and responding to the problem as they understand it, or they may adapt existing institutional arrangements in light of the revised understanding of the problem.
Frequently, they do some of both. In devising and adapting institutional arrangements for response to the problem, individuals again draw upon existing institutional arrangements for assistance, for ideas about what to do or what to avoid. This may range from copying an existing institutional arrangement (such as a contract) essentially unchanged to using existing institutional arrangements (such as legislative or judicial procedures) to creating new arrangements suited to the particular circumstances as they are understood by the individuals involved. The institutional arrangements designed at this stage, as well as the experiences gained in adapting existing institutional arrangements to a different set of circumstances, become additions to the stock of social capital.
With this conception of institutional arrangements as a form of social capital that individuals draw upon and add to as they engage in problem solving, the idea of "an institutionally-rich environment" acquires real significance. Individuals in an institutionally-rich environment -- where considerable investments have been made in diverse institutional arrangements for learning about and responding to problems -- are likely to have real advantages in understanding and responding to collective problems (Nunn 1986). In an institutionally rich environment, individuals with limited information-processing and communication capabilities coping with a changeable world should be able to perceive and employ more ways of acquiring needed information, more means of sharing costs and distributing benefits, and more possibilities for overcoming problems.