Gov. Brown Appoints Green Party Mayor Bruce Delgado to Water Board

By Sara Rubin, Monterey County Weekly

Just as the Central Coast growers were starting to settle into to a stop-and-go routine of immobility on runoff rules, Gov. Jerry Brown today announced four appointments to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, which will give the regulatory agency a quorum and enable it to finally take action on updating the runoff rule, known as the "ag waiver," that expired in 2009.

Of the four appointees to the sprawling region, which includes all of Monterey County and parts of Santa Clara, Kern and Ventura counties, two are locals. Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado and Teamsters consultant Michael Johnston of Watsonville will fill vacant positions. Jean-Pierre Wolff, a San Luis Obispo vintner, was reappointed, and Michael Jordan, an insurance executive in Santa Barbara, also took a seat.

Under the expired ag waiver, growers had to register with the water board; the proposed update would require the worst polluters to cut back on some pesticides and nitrogen fertilizer, with stringent requirements the ag industry says are impossible to meet.

Even after environmental groups and ag industry groups met with retired Monterey County Superior Court Judge Richard Silver in mediation, they failed to reach a compromise on the new rules and how far they should require farmers to go.

There have been challenges with the inability to move forward on the ag waiver in the absence of enough voting board members; even water board leadership has acknowledged the extensions relied on questionable legal authority.

In the midst of those challenges, State Senator Darrell Steinberg proposed a bill that would cut back on the number of voting water board membersstatewide to help them act more quickly. The Legislature did not take up the bill, which had been introduced in the last legislative session, and had been met with skepticism by environmental groups.