The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is one of California’s most important natural assets. It is also the single most critical link in California’s water supply system, serving as the hub for both the State Water Project (SWP) and the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) that together serve more than 25 million Californians and millions of acres of farmland.
For all its importance, the Delta faces many challenges. It is in an ecological collapse that threatens key fish species as well as water supply reliability for much of the state. By any measure, it has seen significant declines in water quality and ecosystem health in recent decades, and faces tremendous pressures in its dual role as water conveyance system and important habitat for critical species.
The California Legislature took a major step toward addressing these challenges by enacting a comprehensive legislative package on water in November 2009. Key decisions are ahead in 2013 as state agencies implement the package.
Bay-Delta Conservation Plan
The Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) process is developing a comprehensive plan to obtain long-term operating permits under the state and federal Endangered Species Acts. The proposed BDCP conservation strategy includes a more modern and reliable water conveyance system in the Delta, restoration of up to 115,000 acres of natural habitat, and actions to address other stressors affecting the Delta ecosystem. An administrative draft of the plan is expected sometime this spring.
On March 14, 2013, the California Natural Resources Agency released the first four of 12 draft chapters of the BDCP. The release of these first chapters is seen as a milestone in the seven-year effort to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem and provide a reliable water supply for two-thirds of California's population.
Delta Stewardship Council
The Delta Stewardship Council is developing a Delta Plan to guide state and local efforts to manage the Delta in a way that furthers the co-equal goals. The council is expected to release a draft plan by June, with a final plan due by Jan. 1, 2012.