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The murky depths of California’s obscure water boards

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Even though you probably can’t name one of the people who sits on your local school board, fire board, or mosquito abatement board, they play a powerful role in the local politics of your community. In California, where droughts are common, water boards are important players in both local and statewide issues, and their super-sized power occasionally leads to super-sized problems.

The Los Angeles Times reported that State Senator Ron Calderon’s recent troubles could, in part, be linked to his ties to the Central Basin Water District, who Calderon’s brother Tom is reportedly a consultant for. If it’s true, it wouldn’t be the first time a water board has found itself on the wrong side of the law.

What checks and balances do local communities have over these entities? What role do they play in our lives?

Ellen Hanak, co-director of research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California