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Council Affirms First-Year Implementation Priorities

July 2014

With the adoption and subsequent implementation of the Delta Plan, the Delta Stewardship Council (Council) continues to focus on specific priorities as affirmed by the Council members last December. Newly appointed Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson provided a status update on these priority activities to the Council at its June 2014 Council meeting. Pearson shared with the Council members a way to track the progress of the individual items, their respective major milestones throughout the year and how she will keep the Council apprised. The individual tasks, milestones, and target dates for completion of each priority are listed on the internal working document available for review by clicking here.

“Upon review we realized that from the initial list of 20, everything pretty much fell into three categories,” said Pearson. “The first category includes our top priorities, things that absolutely needed to either get done or have significant progress in 2014.” This includes developing the Levee Investment Strategy and Interim Science Action Agenda, achieving progress in habitat restoration in the Delta, facilitating the update of the State Water Resources Control Board’s water quality objectives for Delta flows and addressing associated stressors, and coordinating land use and local planning.

Pearson then explained to the Council the criteria used in “prioritizing the priorities”.

“We wanted to make sure that in order for something to make the cut that it was part of implementing the Delta Plan – either a recommendation or in furtherance of one of our policies, or it was a directive of the Delta Reform Act,” said Pearson. “We also reviewed the Governor’s Water Action Plan because several Delta Plan implementation items are highlighted in that Action Plan, which means they have the attention and focus of other agencies. We then wanted to identify where the Council is the lead on an activity, where it has funding and where it has staff that can be assigned to that activity.” Additionally, there are core competencies that require ongoing attention and staff resources, such as with covered actions. Such activities are included here.

Core functions, on the other hand, are ongoing activities that staff needs to strengthen, further develop or meet significant milestones on during 2014. Seven items and their corresponding objectives are listed and include:

The Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee (DPIIC)
   o Implement the Delta Plan through the establishment and leadership of an Interagency Implementation Committee. Increase communication and coordination among implementing agencies to ensure implementation efficiency and progress

Covered Actions
   o Further the coequal goals through consistency with the Delta Plan

• Other Delta Science Plan Implementation – Data Summit
   o Provide the best possible scientific information to inform water and environmental decision‐making and support adaptive management in the Delta

• Maintaining The State of Bay-Delta Science
   o Maintain up‐to‐date citations of scientific literature
   o Maintain the current status of scientific knowledge for the Delta

• Federal Approval of the Delta Plan pursuant to the California’s Coastal Zone Management Act/Plan (CZMA)
   o Strengthens the framework for coordination with federal agencies cooperating in implementing the Delta Plan
   o Ensures greater consistency with the Delta Plan

Performance Reporting
   o Track and report on performance of overall Delta Plan implementation

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP)
   o Focus on the statutory roles of the Council in its relationship with the BDCP

A third category includes other activities that affect the Delta. Staff will monitor these activities and alert the Council to actions that may significantly affect Delta Plan implementation, so that priorities can be adjusted when necessary.

“At the end of the year, we’ll report back on these priorities and core functions in the form of our Annual Report,” said Pearson. “The Report will summarize Council accomplishments and highlight overall progress in implementing the Delta Plan.”

Delta Science Program Lead Scientist Dr. Peter Goodwin then offered a comment on the value of the 2014 Priorities List.

“This is really the best effort of the Council staff to understand what’s expected and to set priorities,” said Goodwin. “In putting together this plan we have maintained some capacity and flexibility so if we’re asked to take on big issues, we’re a small agency, we’re nimble, we’re flexible, and we can jump on things perhaps faster than our larger sister agencies can do.”

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)