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Commission Makes Progress on Key Plan

November 2011

The Delta Protection Commission has approved the latest version of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), but the document is still a work in progress.
Executive Director of the Commission, Mike Machado, told the Delta Stewardship Council during a recent meeting that the majority of work has been done, but some changes may still occur.

“The document is basically final, subject to any major changes from the peer review panel,” Machado said.

Sponsored by the Delta Science Program, the peer review panel, which met Nov. 1-2, consisted of professors and professionals from across the country specializing in everything from civil engineering and earthquake stability to geology and economics.

quoteThe chair of the peer review panel, Bob Gilbert, a civil engineering professor at the University of Texas, offered the group’s initial assessment of the ESP.

“This report provides a good starting point to conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, but its recommendations are not well supported because the report is not itself a cost-benefit analysis,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert went on to say that the ESP provides a valuable baseline understanding of the Delta economy and offers “creative and potentially viable” ideas for strengthening both the Delta’s economy and its levees.

The peer review panel will issue its formal review in early December and Gilbert will present its findings to the Council at the Dec. 15 meeting.

The ESP is a document required by the Delta Reform Act of 2009 – the same legislation that created the Council – and it offers a variety of recommendations regarding agriculture, recreation, tourism and infrastructure services including:

  • improving the levees;
  • maintaining or enhancing the value of Delta agriculture;
  • initiating a process to streamline local, state and federal regulations;
  • limiting regulation of covered actions;
  • creating an agency to build awareness about the region; and
  • establishing a Delta Fund to implement recreation and tourism strategies

Machado says the current version of the ESP will hopefully provide a perspective that can help the Council develop a plan that recognizes and addresses the concerns of local government in the Delta.

Council member and Commission Chair Don Nottoli added that the ESP is the product of a lot of hard work and critical thinking.

“I believe we have a plan that reflects the activities of the Delta—current activities and future activities—as they relate to the economics of the Delta,” Nottoli said.
Earlier drafts of the ESP were released on Jul. 21 and Aug. 9, 2011. The Commission released the latest draft on Oct. 10.

To view the latest draft, click here.

To view information on the Delta Science Program’s Peer Review Panel, click here.


The Delta Protection Commission approved the latest version of its Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) in October. In November, the Delta Science Program sponsored a peer review panel comprised of independent scientists from across the country. The panel will present its review of the ESP to the Council
in December.

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)