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White Papers Provide Firm Foundation for Delta Plan

November 2010

Seeking common ground from which to begin crafting a Delta Plan, the Delta Stewardship Council will be using a series of white papers to share expert opinion on the host of issues facing the Delta.

The first two white papers, discussed during October’s meeting, addressed flood risk and ecosystem restoration, providing historical context and introducing issues that are relevant to the development of a Delta Plan.

“This provokes the conversations that lead to what we will do and the alternatives we will have in the EIR [Environmental Impact Report] and eventually the Delta Plan,” said Council Chair Phil Isenberg.

The white paper found several factors imperiling the Delta ecosystem, including attempts to reclaim farmland, efforts to protect areas from flood and actions to provide water for agriculture. Waste from agriculture, industry and urban areas also damages the Delta.

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The debate about the ecosystem and the current situation in the Delta led the Council to consider other topics for future white papers. Isenberg noted the need for research focused on agriculture. At next month’s Council meeting, the members will review a white paper regarding land use, which stands likely to include agricultural interests.

“Ecosystem restoration, restoring lands, retiring lands … have direct and significant ties to putting together a Delta Plan,” said Councilmember Don Nottoli.

Council members also agreed on a need for more information related to levee maintenance and construction. The Delta as it exists today is the product of a levee system, which is threatened by flood, earthquakes, sea level change and subsidence (the diminishment of levees).

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)