As part of a continual pledge to be transparent in the development and implementation of the Delta Plan, Delta Stewardship Council Chair Phil Isenberg met recently with the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times to discuss the current state of the staff draft Delta Plan and why it’s such an important component of the Delta Reform Act.
“(That) 2009 water package is a ‘framework’ for making the tough decisions. It wasn’t making the tough decisions itself,” Isenberg told Robert Greene, lead editorial writer at the Times. “The Council is inching in the right direction with the draft.”
The two spoke for more than an hour, going through many of the proposed recommendations and policies set forth in the draft with Isenberg speaking directly to the heart of the problem – California’s demand for water versus the finite supply. Isenberg explained what he says are three "imponderable puzzles" that confound the issue: unquantifiable water rights, unknown area of origin permits, and “paper water” contracts.
Isenberg also told Greene that Senate Bill 7x1 was part of a historic five bill water package presented by the Legislature in 2009, and that the legislation created the Delta Stewardship Council as an independent state agency with a mandate to develop a legally defensible Delta Plan by Jan. 1, 2012.
“I think the legislature has done three significant things (with that law),” Isenberg said. “They’ve adopted coequal goals. They said for the first time in statute the goal of the state is to decrease reliance on the Delta for future water use. And they don’t insist that our Plan come back for legislative approval. It goes into effect right away.”
Throughout the conversation, Isenberg elaborated on various components of the draft, including covered actions, the funding mechanism, water supply reliability, setting Delta flows, improving habitat, and protecting the Delta as a place.
Greene said the editorial board’s goal is to present this issue in the clearest way possible, namely how to once and for all get the Delta and California\'s water system on a sustainable path for the future. He did not, however, say when or if the paper would write an editorial on the subject.
Isenberg and other Council members will continue to meet with editorial boards from papers across the state in order to help educate readers about the Delta Plan process and progress of the Council.