I was pleased to hear that Governor Newsom has nominated Nichole Morgan to fill the civil engineering seat on the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board). Ms. Morgan, a Cal State Sacramento graduate, is currently Assistant Deputy Director of Financial Assistance at the State Water Board and previously worked at the Central Valley Regional Board. The State Water Board is the primary regulatory agency that is supposed to manage water resources in California. Ms. Morgan will now help to lead the agency that plays a vital role in overseeing California’s complex water rights system, planning for drought conditions, upholding water quality standards, and ensuring safe drinking water for all Californians.
My happiness over Ms. Morgan’s appointment was tempered by the fact that this means Tam Doduc’s term on the State Water Board has come to an end, after spending over 15-years as a powerful voice for under-resourced communities, fish and wildlife, and the wild places that make California such an incredible place to live. Ms. Doduc was a consistent voice for the Board to complete its obligations to update water quality standards for the Bay-Delta, which are woefully out of date. She voted to begin the triennial review of the Bay-Delta water quality standards in 2009, voted in 2010 to adopt the Public Trust flows report after months of hearings, and voted in favor of adopting stronger flow standards for the tributaries to the San Joaquin River in 2018. She also served as one of the two hearing officers in the water rights proceeding for the California WaterFix project, in which she rejected DWR’s proposal that the impacts to fish and wildlife from the project be limited to evaluation of compliance with the outdated 2006 Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan, helping to ensure that the project would be fairly evaluated. As the longest-serving Board member, Tam retained an incredible institutional memory of the Board’s successes and failures, and she was willing to admit to those failures and ask tough questions of all parties, including state and federal agencies. I am incredibly grateful that Tam has shared her expertise through public service to California for so long, she will be missed.
While I am sad to see Tam move on from the State Water Board, Ms. Morgan’s decades-long experience on stewarding regional and state level water resources will provide the important expertise our state needs as we head into a dry, hot future. She also understands the challenges of communities served by small water systems and the equity issues woven into those challenges. I am hopeful that she will use her experience to prioritize equity and transparency moving forward. We look forward to working with Ms. Morgan to ensure safe, reliable, and affordable drinking water for all Californians and protection for California’s rivers, fish and wildlife, and the communities that depend on their health.