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One Delta, One Science – A Path for Building Common Knowledge

The Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan recommends that the Delta Science Program work with others to develop a Delta Science Plan to organize and integrate ongoing science and shared learning.


The Delta Science Plan lays the foundation for achieving a shared vision for science; ‘One Delta, One Science’ – an open Delta science community that works together to build a common body of scientific knowledge. Transitioning from scientists operating in agency or program isolation, an open science community will have the capacity to adapt and inform future water and environmental decisions across multiple organizations and programs. The second draft clarifies another key issue: scientific debate. The vision of the Science Plan, One Delta, One Science, does not mean that scientists will share the same opinion. In fact, discovery of facts and innovation can be accelerated by exploring genuine differences in scientific opinion that are addressed in a transparent and rigorous manner.


“The Science Plan must address complex questions and be able to help inform decision-makers in the face of uncertainty,” says Delta Stewardship Council/Delta Science Program Lead Scientist Peter Goodwin.


“The Plan represents a good balance between providing information in a timely manner, and embedding the type of science infrastructure that will allow this dynamic system to be better understood in the coming decades, anticipating both the natural events of flood and drought as well as the large-scale restoration and changes in water operations it will experience.”


The Delta Science Plan is the first element of a three-part planning, implementation, and reporting strategy. The overall Delta Science Strategy includes:

  • The Delta Science Plan – A shared vision for Delta science and a living framework for guiding, organizing, and integrating science in the Delta.
  • The Science Action Agenda (Action Agenda) – Prioritizes near-term actions to achieve the objectives of the Science Plan and identifies priorities for research, monitoring, data management, modeling, synthesis, communication and building science capacity to engage in these activities.
  • The State of Bay-Delta Science (SBDS) – A summary synthesis, updated periodically, of the current scientific knowledge of the Delta.


"The Delta Science Program is ready to translate complex information into management scenarios,” said Rainer Hoenicke, Delta Stewardship Council Deputy Executive Officer for Science. “Given the data and models at hand, what would the likely outcomes of contemplated actions be? This is not a trivial question, and it will take the strong commitment of the Delta Science Program to make the knowledge base accessible, current, and relevant.”


The Delta Science Plan will build on existing efforts to provide a new path to achieve the vision of One Delta, One Science. Implementation of the plan will result in independent, peer-reviewed, objective science products to inform Delta decisions intended to achieve the coequal goals of providing a more reliable water supply and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem.


Some of the specifics of the Delta Science Plan include:

  • A Policy-Science Forum that brings together decision-makers and scientists to identify issues and build understanding and trust about the science needed to support decisions.
  • A Science Steering Committee to guide the distillation of relevant research and current knowledge to inform ecosystem restoration and water management decisions.
  • An Adaptive Management Unit within the Delta Science Program that will include liaisons who will assist their counterparts in the other Delta agencies with the development of adaptive management plans for ecosystem restoration and water management actions.

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)