Environment, ag given higher profile on local water board

Seeking to correct an imbalance they believe has short-changed agricultural and environmental interests on their most important water advisory board, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday expanded the committee to include both groups.

The additions came at the request of the Water Resources Advisory Committee, a 32-member volunteer body that advises the board on the critical issue of water.

Committee member Eric Greening likened the committee to a 3-legged stool: agricultural, environmental and urban water interests. The latter has a much longer leg, he said.

The committee asked that a new member be added with a focus on coastal-marine issues, and another with expertise in vineyards and wineries.

Farm and vintner groups asked that agriculture get two additional members — one for wineries and one for vineyards. But the board decided to combine them.

Vineyards use significant quantities of water whereas wineries do not, some speakers said.

Committee members will handle the initial phases of the selection process, winnowing out applicants and returning with finalists for supervisors to appoint.

“Anywhere in California and the West, water is an issue,” Supervisor Bruce Gibson said later.