DSC Releases Sixth Staff Draft of Delta Plan

The long-awaited sixth staff draft of the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan was transmitted to the seven-member council Monday for review and comment.

The 332-page draft plan will be discussed by the council at its May 24 meeting as well as meetings set for June 14-15 and June 28-29. Council staff expects to make further revisions at the direction of council members and recirculate the draft environmental impact report to cover the final staff draft sometime this summer. A final Delta Plan is expected to be adopted by November or December.

Joe Grindstaff, the council’s executive officer, said the sixth draft reflects more than 10,000 comments received to date and analysis included in the draft environmental document circulated in November. The sixth draft also reflects changes to policies and recommendations in the areas of Delta levee priorities, flow objectives, land development and water quality, as well as clarifications to areas such as area of origin protection and covered actions.

In a conference call with statewide media, Grindstaff described the draft plan as a “common sense approach informed by the best available science” and identified several core strategies for addressing the Delta’s water supply and ecosystem needs.

“We can’t wait any longer to get started on achieving the coequal goals of restoring the Delta ecosystem and providing a reliable water supply for California,” Grindstaff said.  “California’s water supply is both scarce and sometimes mismanaged. The Delta ecosystem is deteriorating at an alarming rate.”

In addition, he said, Delta communities, farms and infrastructure face significant flood risks that must be addressed.

Core strategies identified by Grindstaff include reducing reliance on water from the Delta watershed through investment in local resources development and better water management; completing and permitting the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, including conveyance and habitat improvements essential to the coequal goals; identifying high-priority restoration areas and setting a deadline for the State Water Resources Control Board to update flow standards for the Delta and tributaries; and improving flood preparedness and reducing the Delta’s exposure to flood risks.

He said the plan also recommends actions to reduce pollution, address invasive species, protect the Delta as a unique place and encourage the beneficiaries pay principle for financing actions.

Grindstaff noted that implementation of the plan will be a challenge and said an interagency committee will be established to guide implementation activities.

ACWA and members of the Ag-Urban Coalition are reviewing the sixth staff draft and will meet in the coming days and weeks to discuss it.