It will be a busy February and March for the Delta Stewardship Council as members meet twice each month to consider public comments received on both the fifth staff draft of the Delta Plan and its environmental impact report, and provide direction for a sixth draft plan.
To prepare for those discussions, the Council at its Jan. 26 meeting reviewed the development of the Delta Plan’s first five drafts and discussed a report that summarized by broad interest category the hundreds of comments received since the first staff draft of the plan was published on Feb. 14, 2011.
John Kirlin and Bob Twiss, former consultants for Delta Vision and current consultants for the Council, detailed changes from the 52-page the Delta Plan’s first staff draft in February 2011 to the 468-page fifth staff draft in August 2011. Because the fifth staff draft was still undergoing environmental review, they did not offer changes or recommendations.
“We thought it would be useful to the Council and the public to see how the plan has evolved from the first staff draft to the fifth,” Executive Officer Joe Grindstaff said. “Doing so allows us to wrap our arms around how far we’ve come and where we need to go. Essentially, we wanted to spell out ‘what we’ve done, how we’ve done it and what people said about it – in a manner of speaking.”
The changes are substantial. Most notably, the plan’s fifth staff draft includes fewer regulatory policies than previous drafts and offers more recommendations and performance measures.
For example, in the plan’s second staff draft, 33 policies were proposed, including 10 relating to governance and eight addressing water supply reliability. By the fifth staff draft, those numbers had been reduced to two and one, respectively. Meanwhile, the number of recommendations increased from 41 to 62 and performance measures increased from 42 to 75.
Kirlin noted that while this change reflects the Council’s staff responding to feedback requesting less regulation, the consequence is an increased dependence on other agencies to implement the plan’s recommendations. He said that reliance on the actions of other agencies could result in conflicts between the mission and resources of those agencies with the goals and objectives of the Delta Reform Act.
Twiss and Kirlin summarized written comments from interest groups by broadly saying that nearly all stated a commitment to achieving the coequal goals, as well as a desire to be affected minimally by the Delta Plan while protecting or advancing their own interests.
The groups differed, however, about their understandings of relevant physical, biological and human-created systems and their future dynamics; interests (public and private); and preferred arenas for resolving conflicts. In addition, there were few comments on two key elements of the Plan: long-term risk reduction, and science and adaptive management. And, while Delta as a Place was the subject of many comments, the goals and methods of achieving them were submerged in concerns about loss of control and the conflicts between competing land uses (local control of land use decisions vs. regional and state needs).
A more in-depth discussion of the Delta will take place at the Feb. 9 and 10 meeting as the Council considers the Delta Protection Commission’s recommendations about protecting the Delta as a place.
Public comment will continue to inform each draft of the plan.
To view all of the iterations of the Draft Delta Plan, click here
To view the ‘Changes in Staff Draft Delta Plans’ document, click here
To view the ‘Major Themes in Comments on Staff Drafts of Delta Plan’ document, click here