2 Dec 2009

Questions for Tom Birmingham of Westlands WD?

Tom Birmingham has invited me down to Westlands to have a tour and water chat about the situation there this coming Sunday. Do you have any questions that you'd like me to ask him?


  1. 1. Tom, what would a win for you be, going forward?
    2. How can I help you get to that win?
    3. I think that your win is a good start but not a best solution for your water district for the next 10 to 15 years. A better solution might be "...............". How can we work together to make progress toward this better solution?
    4. What are the impediments to getting to either your current or your longer term best solution?
    5. How might I lower some of the impediments?
    6. What role or persona should I assume in order to you to get to your goals or joint goals that we come up with together?
    7. Who else should be in the loop so that their is a better chance to reach feasible goals?

    The motif of these questions is the art of the possible and getting Tom to lead a change. The motif is not to come in as a person with all the answers. The reason not to come in with all the answers (especially if you think you have a lot of them) is that presenting yourself as the person with all the answers is never and effective strategy in getting something done until a high level of trust is built up.

    Does this help?

  2. I have a few...

    I'd like to know about the progress of the land buyout - I thought I heard that USBR was considering a partial land buyout as compensation for the failed drainage issue.

    I'd like to know about the effect of WaterLink, the electronic system (zilbo? Sunding?) helped them develop, and if its still useful, or if they do something else now to facilitate intra-district trades.

    Why don't they buy out more small districts near them? (like they have with Broadview, Widren, Mercy Springs)

    Why aren't they seeking more water from Modesto/Turlock/Exchange Contractors on a long term basis? What is hindering them? Does WTP at all hinder their quest for more, or is it still just a lack of willingness to sell on behalf of nearby buyers?

  3. Yes ask him when he will agree to let us examine regional self-sufficiency for the San Joaquin Valley. Ask him why Westlands won't hedge their bet on a Delta solution by allowing the Strategic Economic Applications Company to get started on their proposed study of regional self sufficiency. Ask him if he has homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance. If he says "yes," ask him why? Then point out that there should be a life insurance policy paid for the Delta FIRST before any facility plan is considered. With no Delta water due to earthquake-caused liquifaction and no regionally reliable self sufficiency planned water (from us of course!), Westlands is on dwindling groundwater and is heading into the dustbin of history. Then give him a big kiss and tell him that David and Steve can save him.

  4. WaterSource/WaterBank2 Dec 2009, 23:15:00

    Since Tom claims "The smelt cutbacks have cost California more than 660,000 acre feet of water", why isn't Westlands interested in an exchange of 1,000,000 acre feet of new water per year that could alliviate the litigation ?

  5. Ask him how the Westlands will meet a 20% reduction in water use by 2020.

    I can't ask anything else, because it's just being mean, and I'm trying not to be mean.

  6. Will Congressman Nunez be with yall? Just love that dude ta death, no?

  7. You might ask Tom Birmingham if $400 to $500/acre foot water from waterbag deliveries to the Delta might have any economic benefit to Westlands, assuming that this water could be used for M&I use.

    Perhaps the waterbag idea would release water to northern California water districts who use State Water Project water, thus freeing up more water for agricultural use at a lower rate. If he likes the waterbag idea would Westlands be interested in supporting a demonstration of our waterbag technology in California? I think we could offer them an opportunity to support this demonstration with zero financial risk to Westlands based on the sponsorship ideas we discussed.

    If we are successful delivering 10 MGD to the Delta it is just a matter of adding more waterbags to the trains and more trains to the system in order to deliver 100.000’s of acre feet to the Delta each year. And this would be done in increments.

    My gut feeling is that waterbag water is too expensive for Agricultural use. However, in some applications during certain times of the year, our economics might be okay for ag.

  8. Ask him "Who is westlands?" Where do they live? What is the proportion of Latinos on their staff and among their property owners? Does he feel it should be higher?

    Ask him if they are going to pay back their Central Valley Project debt before or after they pay for the new Delta conveyance.

  9. I like Anonymous's questions...

  10. WaterSource/WaterBank4 Dec 2009, 21:57:00

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. So, what happened? You've got to blog about it, right?


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