Delta Plan Amendments
Adopted by the Delta Stewardship Council in May 2013, the Delta Plan anticipated the need for periodic reviews and updates in response to changing circumstances and conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh. Seven amendments have been made to the Delta Plan to date. Rulemaking for new and revised policies and mitigation measures included in the amended Delta Plan Chapter 4 (Protect, Restore, and Enhance the Delta Ecosystem) and Chapter 7 (Reduce Risk to People, Property, and State Interests in the Delta) is currently in progress.
The revised Chapter 4 of the Delta Plan (Ecosystem Amendment) is a new approach that aims to achieve a dynamic and resilient restored landscape envisioned in the Delta Reform Act of 2009. The Ecosystem Amendment portfolio includes protecting existing ecosystems, restoring ecosystems, and enhancing working or urban landscapes that provide habitat resources to species. These approaches can reestablish ecological processes and functions to be more resilient to land conversion and climate change. The Ecosystem Amendment leverages decades of research and recovery planning to identify a path forward, increase coordination, and work towards a common vision for a restored Delta ecosystem.
The Ecosystem Amendment is the product of iterative public and agency comments and coordination. In preparation for a Preliminary Draft, the Council began outreach efforts in 2015. The November 2019 Preliminary Draft underwent thorough public, agency, and Delta Independent Science Board review and resulted in the May 2020 Draft. At the May 2020 Council meeting, the Council authorized the Proposed Ecosystem Amendment for environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Consistent with CEQA Guidelines, the Ecosystem Amendment is considered a project of statewide, regional, or area-wide significance. The Council, as the lead agency, determined that the Ecosystem Amendment may result in potentially significant environmental impacts, and that a Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) is required. A September 2021 Draft PEIR was made available for public comment.
A June 2022 Final PEIR was prepared to respond to comments on the Draft PEIR and to describe revisions made to the Draft PEIR and Proposed Ecosystem Amendment. At the June 2022, Council meeting, the Council certified the Final PEIR and adopted the Ecosystem Amendment. The Council also authorized staff to initiate rulemaking for new and revised Delta Plan policies and mitigation measures included in the Ecosystem Amendment and PEIR.
A digital overview of the need for and approach to strengthening Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem restoration is available online. It summarizes the Ecosystem Amendment’s strategies, policies, recommendations, and performance measures. The Ecosystem Amendment and its supporting appendices (linked below) provide more detail regarding the amended policies and recommendations.
- Amended Delta Plan Chapter 4
Revised policies will not take effect until rulemaking concludes. See the Delta Plan Regulations web page for regulatory policies currently in effect.
- Regulatory Requirements to Demonstrate Consistency with Regulatory Policies and New Definitions. Appendix 3A: ER PA, Appendix 4A: ER P2, and New Proposed Definitions Related to Appendix 3A and 4A
- Appendix 8A. Priority Locations to Evaluate Physical Expansion of Channel Width
- Appendix Q1. Methods Used to Update Ecosystem Restoration Maps Using New Digital Elevation Model and Tidal Data
- Appendix Q2. Key Considerations and Best Available Science for Protecting, Restoring, and Enhancing the Delta Ecosystem
- The Good Neighbor Checklist (included in Appendix Q2) recommends best practices for habitat restoration projects.
- Appendix Q3. Identifying, Mapping, and Quantifying Opportunities for Landscape-Scale Restoration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
- Appendix Q4. Conservation and Recovery Plan Target Species
- Appendix E: Performance Measures for the Delta Plan
- Performance Measure 4.6: Doubling Goal for Central Valley Chinook Salmon Natural Production
- Performance Measure 4.12: Subsidence Reversal for Tidal Reconnection
- Performance Measure 4.13: Barriers to Migratory Fish Passage
- Performance Measure 4.14: Increased Funding for Restoring Ecosystem Function
- Performance Measure 4.15: Seasonal Inundation
- Performance Measure 4.16: Acres of Natural Communities Restored
- Appendix A: Text of Proposed Delta Plan Ecosystem Amendment
- Appendix B: Attachments and Exhibits Submitted with Comment Letters (Available upon request. To request a copy of Appendix B, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Delta Levees Investment Strategy (DLIS) is a multiyear project to update the Delta Plan’s 2013 interim priorities, as requested by the Legislature, for flood risk reduction and to guide the prioritization of state investments in the Delta (more than $700 million since the 1970s) that reduce flood risk and better integrate Delta levees with other Delta actions and statewide flood control. The DLIS priorities were developed with substantial input from the California Department of Water Resources, the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, and local and regional Delta stakeholders. In 2018, the Council approved the DLIS priorities as part of a Delta Plan amendment; however, the amendment was rescinded so the Council could evaluate new levee data. Council staff analyzed this new data and presented it to the Council for review and deliberation in May 2021 and August 2021. At the August 2021 Council meeting, the Council directed staff to reinitiate the rulemaking process for DLIS and policy RR P1. For more information see deltacouncil.ca.gov/dlis/.
Performance Measures: When first adopted, the Delta Plan contained preliminary performance measures developed to monitor implementation of its policies and recommendations. The Delta Plan identified the need for the Council to continue to work with scientific, agency, and stakeholder experts to further refine its performance measures. The Council subsequently conducted a rigorous public process and adopted new and refined performance measures in February 2016. Based on recommendations from the Delta Independent Science Board, in 2018, the Council adopted a further refined set of performance measures to better track Delta Plan outputs and outcomes. The current Delta Plan performance measures are in Appendix E of the Delta Plan. The Performance Measures Guidebook provides a user-friendly overview of the refined set of performance measures adopted in 2018.
Single-Year Water Transfers: Water transfers across the Delta can be an important tool for improving water supply reliability, especially in drought years when some water rights holders may choose to sell a portion of their water supply to areas of the state that are harder hit or are willing to place a greater value on that water. The Council conducted an environmental review and adopted a regulatory amendment in September 2016 that exempts single-year water transfers from regulation under the Delta Plan and simplifies the implementation of these short-term transfers.
Conveyance, Storage, and Operations: This amendment includes a series of recommendations that fulfill the Council’s statutory requirement to promote options for water conveyance, storage, and operations of both. Adopted in April 2018, this amendment includes recommendations that the design and implementation of new or improved conveyance infrastructure in the Delta minimize disruptions to transportation and business activities in the Delta, complement the Delta landscape, and are implemented in cooperation with affected communities, local governments, the Delta Protection Commission, and Delta stakeholders.
Delta Levees Investment Strategy (DLIS): The DLIS is a multiyear project to update the Delta Plan’s 2013 interim priorities, as requested by the legislature, for flood risk reduction and guide the prioritization of state investments in the Delta (more than $700 million since the 1970s) that reduce flood risk and better integrate Delta levees with other Delta actions and statewide flood control. The DLIS was developed with substantial input from the California Department of Water Resources, the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, and local and regional Delta stakeholders. This amendment was adopted in April 2018. The rulemaking process for regulatory components of this amendment is ongoing.