Have you ever used an old-style complaint box? It made us feel better to write out a grievance, and then put it in the special box for that purpose. Often, there would be no response, so nobody knew if the complaint was read, or ignored, or some action taken but not communicated.
Now we air criticisms and accusations with much greater speed and efficiency. It’s called Email, generally directed to one or a few poeple, or the very public Twitter, FaceBook, Yelp, Foursquare, or 500 other online venues. This often isn’t better but it does get results! A thousand “Yeah me too”s, ten thousand “You’re an idiot”s, and a hundred thousand ugly troll comments. Have you successfully complained online and had a positive result? You’re in a small minority.
What if another water diverter on your ditch is taking all the water, or someone files a right for the water you have lawfully used for years, or the new neighbor bullies you and 4 others into not taking your water because he says he’ll file a lawsuit? Fortunately the Water Board has a way to complain about water rights. If you Google “Water Board Complaints”, the following page is usually the first result you’ll get:
Now what? You need to click the “CalEPAEnvironmental Complaint website” link, and then you’ll see the page to the right:
Click on the “Water” radio button, and click “Complaint Details at the bottom of the page.
This will take you to a series of web pages, shown here as the very long page shown on the left. The pages prompt for information, so enter all the details entered. What if you don’t know something? Put in the best information you have and move on to the next section.
What if you don’t want anyone to know who complained? You can file it anonymously. However, you can imagine that putting your John Henry on there would get a better response from the Water Board folks.
Once you do that, and hit “Submit”, you’re done. A web page will pop up with some information, and you’ll get a confirmation email:
Wonderful, your complaint is in the system! How long will it take for you to get a call or an email from someone at the Water Board? If your protest is about a large water right, in the Central Valley, and is well-documented, you may hear back in a month or two. What if your water right is small, you’re in Del Norte County, and you don’t have all the details? Well…it might be many months, and possibly never. Keep in mind, most Water Board staff have five times the workload than any of them can possibly do. Supervisors and staff have to pick and choose what they can work on that might result in an action, and which will have support from their supervisor or manager.
How can you best ensure that your complaint is addressed, and you get contacted by Water Board personnel? Document, document, document. Get right to the point of what you want the State employee to do. Speak bureaucrat. That’s a language similar to English, but which is much better understood by a state employee than standard English. I know, because I had to speak bureaucrat for 30 years! Now I speak bureaucrat to help solve diverters’ headaches to provide peace of mind, and help stay out of trouble.