The State Water Resources Control Board today named a Delta Watermaster, a new position that was created in the Delta Reform Act of 2009 as part of last year’s water legislation package. The Board’s choice was Craig M. Wilson, a water attorney from Stoel Rives and a “more than 30-year veteran of dealing with California’s complex water issues.” This press release (PDF) describes Wilson’s experience with California water and SWRCB matters, including as Chief Counsel for the State Board. Wilson will begin work in this new position within the next month.
The Watermaster will be delegated considerable authority to act on behalf of the State Board, but that authority can only be exercised within a limited, but important, geographical area — that is, only where diversions within the Delta are concerned. The legislation describes the role of the Watermaster:
Water Code, Section 85230(b): The Delta Watermaster shall exercise the board’s authority to provide timely monitoring and enforcement of board orders and license and permit terms and conditions. The Delta Watermaster’s delegated authority shall include authority to require monitoring and reporting, authority for approvals delegated to an officer or employee of the board by the terms of a water right permit or license, authority to approve temporary urgency changes … and authority to issue a notice of proposed cease and desist order or administrative civil liability complaint. The Delta Watermaster’s authority shall be limited to diversions in the Delta, and for the monitoring and enforcement of the board’s orders and license and permit terms and conditions that apply to conditions in the Delta.
The Delta Watermaster holds a four-year term, and in addition to the duties described above, is also required to report regularly to the both the State Board and the Delta Stewardship Council on “water rights administration, water quality issues, and conveyance operations,” among other topics.