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Mary Piepho: A Legacy of Interest in the Delta

May and June 2015
Mary Piepho

Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Piepho, the newest member of the Delta Stewardship Council (Council), joined the Council in February and brings more than a dozen years of experience as a local elected official working with state and federal agencies on Delta, flood protection, and water resources issues – including acting as both a member and chair of the Delta Protection Commission (DPC).

“I learned about water watching my father, the late State Senator John A. Nejedly, who was a fierce protector of the Delta and the environment. Never did I expect to find myself in such a leadership role regarding the Delta,” said Piepho. “I learned from Dad that the Delta’s challenges have much to do with man's early influence in building levees and restricting the flow of water into more defined channels versus vast floodplains as nature originally created and that many of these alterations have placed the Delta into a state of peril from which it may never recover. I hope to use my experience to protect and enhance the Delta and its communities to assure the environmental and economic values the Delta provides continue for generations to come.”

The Council is composed of members who come from different parts of the state. As a native of Walnut Creek and a lifelong resident of Contra Costa County, Piepho is excited about the opportunity to include what she calls “the Voice of the Delta” to the Council’s proceedings. “The DPC has long been considered the defender of that ‘Voice’ and I am excited to carry it forward to the Delta Stewardship Council as we implement the Delta Plan, navigate land-use impacts in the primary and secondary zones in the Delta, and advocate for the Delta.”

Piepho was appointed to the Council in January 2015 when she replaced former Council member Larry Ruhstaller as chair of the DPC. The Delta Reform Act mandates that one of the Council’s seven members be the current chair of the DPC. She says she’s ready to “thread the needle between good policy and politics ensuring that science is the truly neutral basis for sound, short and long-term policy development as it relates to protecting the Delta, its environs and its future.”

Piepho says she expects to use her new position to regularly voice her concerns about water policy in California.

To resolve what appears at times to be an intractable water debate, Piepho believes an agreement on science will be the first mediating factor. “If we can agree that neutral science is the BEST basis for good policy development maybe we can begin to trust that the process will represent all interests in the end and not one side or perspective over another,” said Piepho.

Council member Mary Piepho lives in Discovery Bay with her husband and daughter. To learn more, visit her bio on the DSC website, or join the Council at one of its monthly meetings.

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)