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Fall Low Salinity Habitat (FLaSH) Studies and Adaptive Management Plan Review
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a Biological Opinion (BO) on the Central Valley Project (CVP)/State Water Project (SWP) operations in 2008 that concluded that aspects of those operations jeopardize the continued existence of delta smelt (DS). The Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA) that was issued with the BO calls for implementation of adaptive management of Fall Delta outflow in above-normal and wet years to improve habitat suitability and contribute to higher average DS abundances. The RPA calls for Delta outflow to be managed such that Fall X2 (the location of the 2 ppt isohaline) must average either 74 km or 81 km upstream from the Golden Gate during the month of September and October, respectively, if the water year containing the preceding spring was classified as wet or above normal. 2011 is classified as a wet year. The RPA also requires that adaptive management be used to assess the effectiveness of the action. In 2010, the US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) produced a "Draft Plan for Adaptive Management (AMP) of Fall Outflow for Delta Smelt Protection and Water Supply Reliability". An Independent Review Panel consisting of national experts was convened by the Delta Science Program in June 2011 to review the draft plan, participate in discussion with the proponents, and produce a Review Panel report.
Following the Panel review in June 2011, several research studies were undertaken to gather information on the effects of Fall X2 and its effect on the habitat (FLaSH). A panel of independent scientists will be convened (July 31 - August 1, 2012) to review the draft FLaSH report as well as the draft 2012 AMP to ensure it is of sufficient robustness and scientific quality
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)