In less than a month, the Delta Stewardship Council will kick off a series of seven scoping meetings that will give agencies and individuals throughout the state an opportunity to weigh in on the future of this vital 738,000-acre estuary.
Scoping meetings are the latest step in a process that will conclude with a Delta Plan, the document that will guide all projects that could have an impact on the Delta – upstream, downstream and within the Delta itself. Over the coming months, the Delta Stewardship Council will use environmental studies, stakeholder perspectives and careful consideration to craft the Delta Plan.
By California law, the plan must further the state’s coequal goals for the Delta of a reliable water supply and a restored ecosystem, while also recognizing the Delta as an evolving place. Also by law, the Delta Stewardship Council faces a tight deadline of Jan. 1, 2012 to complete the Delta Plan and an accompanying Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which must demonstrate that the Delta Plan meets all requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act. An EIR informs decision-makers and the public about the significant environmental effects of a project, possible ways to minimize those effects and reasonable alternatives to the project.
Between Jan. 18 and Jan. 26, 2011, the Council will host seven scoping meetings throughout California.
The purpose behind the scoping process is to provide an opportunity for public and agency involvement in preparation of the Delta Plan EIR; help identify the scope of issues and potential impacts that must be discussed in an EIR to address the Plan’s potential impacts; and help identify those “reasonable alternatives.”
Engineer Gwen Buchholz, a consultant on the Delta Plan process, told Council members recently that the scoping process should be as broad as possible to ensure it errs on the side of inclusivity.
“My opinion is that we be more expansive initially in the scoping process,” she said. “Then if the decision of the Council is to reduce that area, we would do it post-scoping process.” Information collected during the scoping process will be used to specifically define a wide range of implementation strategies for the Delta Plan, compare the strategies and compile them into alternatives that address all the goals and policy objectives of state law.
The scoping meetings will be led by Joe Grindstaff, executive officer of the Delta Stewardship Council, and Council members will attend each of the meetings.
In addition to comments received at the meetings, the Delta Stewardship Council is also inviting written comments to ensure that the full range of issues related to the development of the Delta Plan are identified. Council staff will put together a full report after the scoping process to compile all of the comments they receive.
Written comments are due by Jan. 28, 2011, and should be sent to:
Deputy Executive Officer
Delta Stewardship Council
980 Ninth Street, Suite 1500
Sacramento, CA 95814
Comments can also be emailed to: