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“Identify the knobs before you start turning them.”

The National Research Council (NRC) Committee on Sustainable Water and Environmental Management in the California Bay-Delta invited the public to an open session in San Francisco (not the most convenient location for Delta folks) week before last. Members of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Steering Committee, including Jason Peltier  of the Westlands Water District, made a presentation to the council suggesting that we have the science we need to move forward with conveyance, and we can’t wait forever for “ecosystem Nirvana.” The Committee heard that increasing flood plain inundation doesn’t guarantee that salmon will use the flood plain, especially if they are not present in the system. They heard that the first ever actual photo of a wild smelt was [...]

Uncertainty. Flexibility. Resilience. Adaptive capacity.

These are probably not words the BDCP Steering Committee ever wanted to have to use. But they came up time and again when the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) met last week. The DSC got an update on the BDCP and considered how to incorporate BDCP material into the Delta Plan – or not. Chair Phil Isenberg noted that the BDCP will not be completed in time to include it in the Delta Plan. To meet the statutory mandate, the Delta Plan has to go forward with improved conveyance and ecosystem restoration, with or without BDCP.  He asked outside consultant ARCADIS and the DSC staff to tell the Council what parts of BDCP are useful and reasonably ready to use. The [...]

Looking beyond the Delta

Direction to the DSC by the Legislature with respect to developing the Delta Plan includes managing not just the Delta’s water, but the water resources of the whole state (Section 85020(a)). So the DSC’s deliberations are extending well beyond water use in the Delta. During discussion of the Agriculture White Paper introduced at the meeting, the point was made that non-permanent crops have more habitat value than permanent crops.  Solano County has already been considering what kind of agriculture and ag practices synchronize best with habitat conservation. DSC member Don Nottoli pointed out that water-intensive crops may be better for habitat. That means more water in the Delta for cropping and conservation, not less. Tom Zuckerman described the Agriculture White [...]

A disincentive to conserve

Last month we reported that Fitch Ratings, a global agency that evaluates and rates agencies that issue bonds, had given the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority an A rating on revenue bonds issued in 2008. The rating was based on the financial strength of Westlands Water District.  That, in turn, was based on Westlands water “entitlements” (a term open to question) and its asserted ability to market water. We also noted that municipal bonds financing water supply can be risky, given potential shortages of water. Now Fitch has given a AAA rating to $250 million in Metropolitan Water District water revenue bonds scheduled to be sold this week.  Fitch has also affirmed its previous AAA ratings on two prior [...]

Many pairs of eyes are the next best thing to eyes in the back of your head

We know you’ve noticed that it has been raining.  One Delta business owner observed that with the Mokelumne River nearing flood stage, the state could move toward the “preferred alternative” central canal called for in the CalFed 2000 documents by opening some dams to put more water into the river, thereby flooding the McCormack Williamson tract. The state has already paid $35 million for adjacent Staten Island to flood for in-Delta storage. Meanwhile, in the North Delta, private landowners are moving ahead with strategies that will inevitably affect the Yolo Bypass. Everywhere, there are dots to be connected in a ceaseless unfolding of events.  We at Restore the Delta are grateful for all the pairs of eyes watching what is [...]

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