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Delta Independent Science Board (ISB) Update

February 2014

During its two-day January meeting, the Delta Independent Science Board continued its objective review of the science used to develop the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) as required by the Delta Reform Act.

As a standing board of nationally and internationally prominent scientists, the Delta ISB provides oversight of the scientific research, monitoring, and assessment programs that support adaptive management of the Delta through periodic reviews of each of those programs.

“The ISB’s review will be helpful because the ISB has the reputation and statutory authority to give its opinions weight,” said DSC’s Executive Officer Chris Knopp.

On January 16, ISB members talked at length about the BDCP draft EIR/EIS chapters that they reviewed prior to the meeting and discussed general questions for the BDCP team (Laura King Moon and Cassandra Enos-Nobriga from DWR, and ICF consultants), who came the following day.

Walter Bourez of MBK Engineers presented his findings on one of the models used in the BDCP Draft EIR/S which differed from those presented by BDCP. (He used a 2013 version of the model, rather than the 2009 model BDCP used.)

Former ISB Member Jeff Mount, now a consultant with Saracino and Mount, discussed a report written by an independent panel of scientists and researchers on an earlier, administrative draft of the BDCP Plan. The review was structured around questions related to the timing of exports, the effect of the BDCP on delta and longfin smelt, the benefits of floodplain restoration to open water species, governance, adaptive management, and monitoring. The group has not reviewed the current (public draft) of the BDCP Plan and doesn’t plan to do so.

The Delta ISB expected to have a draft comment memo ready for discussion at its February meeting. A more complete draft of the memo will be discussed at the March 27 Council meeting.

“We’re fortunate to have a team of scientists with international scientific reputations looking at the EIR with fresh eyes, untainted by years of experience with the EIR processes,” said DSC Chief Deputy Executive Officer Dan Ray.

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)