Today the Delta Stewardship Council met to review the final Delta Plan and approved it, voting 7-0.
There were speakers from the Sierra Watershed, State and Federal water contractors and Department of Fish & Wildlife, Water Branch who mostly commended the work done on the Delta Plan and recommended adoption.
However, there were very strong objections raised during the public comment period from environmental groups. Bill Jennings, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, CSPA, reminded the panel that currently there are water rights for five times the amount of available water in the watershed. “This is really the source of the California Water Crisis but this is not discussed or analyzed in the Delta plan. In 2010 the Legislature directed the SWRCB to prepare the Delta Flows. The state board concluded that substantial increases – 75% of Delta outflow – should be outflow. How can you have a comprehensive plan if you don’t acknowledge the reality that there is a conundrum there? You had this golden opportunity to set forth the standards and attainment of how those standard would be met. That might have given us a glimmer of hope. Instead we are looking at at least 8 lawsuits about how we are going to restore this estuary before we destroy it.”
Nick DiCroce from the Environmental Water Caucus added that the Delta Plan “paves the way for a BDCP project which in it’s current state will compound the degradation of the Delta.” He recommended the council “adopt a policy that each project submitted to the DSC be required to satisfy three analytical steps to be certified by the Delta Plan: (1) Water availability analysis (2) Cost benefit analysis and (3) Public trust balance analysis.”
Two Oakley citizens spoke. Ms. Skoog had never attended a DSC meeting before but raised concerns with the tunnel project, whether anything of it’s size had ever been built before under a fragile estuary and raised concerns about project costs and results, citing the Bay Bridge’s overruns and although it’s goal was to be earthquake-proof, we now find it is not. Paul Segar from Oakley compared building the tunnels before managing the need for more water than exists as “we are hemorrhaging the use of water in our cities and our farms. And it occurs to me we are doing open heart surgery before stopping the bleeding. It will be very expensive operation unless we stop the bleeding by penalizing misuse and encouraging smarter use of water especially southern farms that are growing in the desert regions.”
Mr Charles Gardner, Delta Vision Foundation encouraged adoption of the plan but said the council needs to address a number of the key issues we really need to address in the near term such as the levees, the performance measures, the finance plan and above all the implementation committee.
Gary Bobker, Bay Institute and NRDC, commended the way the plan does a good job of describing the Delta as a place. But stated that it is missing clarity about the outcomes and performance measurements; hence the current Delta Plan will not solve the problem of reducing the pressure on the Delta Ecosystem and reducing the risk to the Delta.
Councilwomen Miller, Stockton, urged the council to not approve the plan; rather to continue to work with local stakeholders to bring forth a plan that works for all.
The Council then voted to approved the plan, 7-0.