The conversation is under way in the development of the Delta’s first ever long-term management plan. At its February meeting, the Delta Stewardship Council publically reviewed the first staff draft of the Delta Plan and discussed how to best move forward with its construction.
Chief Deputy Executive Officer Keith Coolidge led the discussion by offering some global questions regarding the core mandates before the Council – the coequal goals.
“As we approach the coequal goals, what do we really mean?” Coolidge asked. “When we talk about a more reliable water supply for California, what do we mean by more reliable?”
The first draft of the Delta Plan is composed of studybased findings in the areas of water resources, ecosystem, reducing risk and protecting the Delta as an evolving place. For instance, it concludes that “California regularly uses more water annually than is provided by nature,” that “California’s water supply is increasingly volatile,” and that “even with substantial ecosystem restoration efforts, some native species may not survive.”
Future draft versions will add more findings in the areas of water quality, governance, financing and integration of policies, performance measures and targets and adaptive management.
Council Chair Phil Isenberg urged everyone to be flexible in the discussion saying the process will likely be inexact and include variables that simply cannot be known.
“I would assume that most people think that water systems are designed to provide 100 percent of the water that people want every day,” Isenberg said. “But the real problem is volatility of supply. The amount available for use changes from year to year. We are increasingly unable to predict how much water we will have
Meanwhile, Council member Felicia Marcus stressed the need for the final product to be something the average water consumer could understand. “How would my Aunt Charlotte read this?” she asked.
Isenberg, a staunch supporter of providing government information in plain English, agreed. He believes the challenge of producing a comprehensive document is doable.
“The overall Delta Plan and the sections themselves have to have a story to tell that is understandable,” Isenberg said. “I know that’s a lot easier to say than to do.”
Members of the public also provided constructive feedback and praise for the Council on the first staff draft, which has been available for review since its Feb. 14 posting on the DSC website. Jonas Minton, water policy adviser to the Planning and Conservation League, congratulated the Council and staff for the willingness to publish findings that aren’t always popular.
“I want to commend you on your process. It has been open and transparent,” Minton said. “Your acknowledgement as the first public agency to say that California has over-allocated its water resources is getting people’s attention.”
The Council will meet again on Mar. 10 and 11 for two all-day workshops designed to delve deeper into the findings of the first draft. The workshops will be held at the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg.
To view the agenda for the workshops, please click here.
Following the workshop, a second staff draft of the Delta Plan will be crafted. Its scheduled release date is March 18. To view a copy of the first draft as well as the release schedule for each subsequent draft, please click here.