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Council Issues Two New White Papers

December 2010

The Delta Stewardship Council has issued two new white papers – addressing the issues of emergency preparedness and land use – as it continues to lay out a factual foundation for its work developing a Delta Plan.

The Council, which earlier issued white papers on the Delta ecosystem and flood risk, discussed the latest reports at its November meeting.

The white paper on emergency preparedness noted that although the frequency of levee failures in the Delta has decreased over the last 50 years, “the risk of levee failure remains a growing concern.”

While an earthquake or other natural disaster is the most likely cause of any future levee failure, the aging condition of many levees creates the potential for surprise failures, like the Jones Tract levee failure near Stockton in 2004, which occurred in good weather without warning.

“Empirical evidence suggests that less major disasters can be dealt with sufficiently,” said Eric Nagy, a consultant with HDR Inc., an engineering firm that prepared the white paper. “We need much more thinking about how to deal with a true catastrophe.”

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The white paper also explains that a Delta-specific plan needs to consider a worst-case scenario based on the unique geography of the area. Ideally, an effective plan needs to address all four phases of emergency management: preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation, the paper notes.

Also at its latest meeting, the Council discussed the white paper on land use, which Councilmember Don Nottoli called a “sensitive piece of the Delta Plan.”

The Delta’s predominant land use is agriculture, but there are many legacy communities with natural and cultural heritage that need to be considered in land use issues.

“This Council needs to absorb a great deal of information and has to respect local land use authorities,” Nottoli said.

The Council will continue to review and discuss additional white papers as it prepares the Delta Plan. To review and submit written comments on the white papers and other planning documents, click here.

Coequal goals

The Delta Stewardship Council was created in legislation to achieve the state mandated coequal goals for the Delta. "'Coequal goals' means the two goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The coequal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place." (CA Water Code §85054)