Appointment needed soon for June Lahontan meeting |

Appointment needed soon for June Lahontan meeting

Making appointments to the state’s regional water quality control boards is not an easy task, according to Jim Spagnole, spokesman for the California Environmental Protection Agency.

That explains why the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, which holds Lake Tahoe within its jurisdiction, has been without a quorum since January. Five months worth of board meetings have been canceled in 1999; a June meeting will only be held if Gov. Gray Davis makes another appointment soon.

“The governor’s appointment secretary is clearly aware of the importance that some of these vacancies have on quorums,” Spagnole said. “But their office and our office are also keenly aware there are some significant challenges in filling these positions. Filling the vacancies is not necessarily as quick and simple as some would expect.”

In January, Davis issued a blanket revocation of pending appointments made by former California Gov. Pete Wilson. Lahontan’s nine-member board already had four vacancies, and the governor’s action created two more. Since then, one member has been appointed. One more seat must be filled before there is a quorum.

Several of the state’s regional water boards were in similar situations, but now only Lahontan and the North Coast board are without quorums.

California EPA reviews applications for the seats and forwards the acceptable ones to the governor’s office.

Candidates must live within the region they are to represent, and the position is not paid. Those factors limit applicants.

Qualifications are not easy to meet, Spagnole said.

There are conflict-of-interest rules that eliminate more than half of the applicants. People who receive at least 10 percent of their income resulting from discharge permits are disqualified. What that means is no one whose livelihood is remotely tied to water usage is allowed to sit on the board.

The rule eliminates numerous candidates, Spagnole said, particularly in areas such as the Lahontan region and North Coast.

Lahontan is one of nine regional boards comprising the California Water Quality Control Board. Its jurisdiction stretches 570 miles from the Oregon border to the northern Mojave Desert. The board is responsible for protecting water quality within its region.

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