There was a good bit of discussion regarding the DSC’s adoption of a Delta Plan, the folding in of BDCP, and how an appeal should be handled if someone takes issue with the Plan.
Greg Zlotnik (State Water Contractors) requested some clarification from the Council on the necessity of BDCP in a Delta Plan. Isenberg reminded Zlotnik that “necessity” was not the critical point; the critical point was whether the BDCP would remain eligible for state funding. (It is easy to forget that taxpayers are funding this process on which the State of California has now spent over $100 million.)
Isenberg: “That is why you are here.”
Zlotnick: “No, it isn’t.”
Isenberg: “Trust me, that IS why you are here.”
After some debate on legislative interpretation, it was determined that if the BDCP is submitted and DSC receives no appeal requests (unlikely), then BDCP is automatically rolled into the Delta plan.
Mr. Zlotnik and Mark Rentz of ACWA took issue with a perceived conflict of interest that DSC will be the ruling body if the Delta Plan, which the DSC is charged with approving in the first place, should face an appeal. After a great deal of discussion, Isenberg assured folks that this was legal and even typical. He pointed out that the Coastal Commission and Delta Protection Commission both review appeals on their own work. He held firm to that view despite arguments that a “de novo” process (“a new trial by a different tribunal”) should be followed instead.
The newly-appointed Executive Director of the DPC, Mike Machado, was warmly received, congratulated on his appointment, and thanked by the Council. Machado reported on the ongoing Economic Sustainability planning. He also reported that a draft primary zone study should be out in October and adopted by December. In addition, he reported that the DPC is moving forward with their National Heritage Area (NHA) feasibility plan.
Gary Bardini, DWR’s new Chief of Hydrology and Flood Operations, gave a rundown on Delta levee maintenance activities. The DRMS study was heavily referenced, and once again the Delta was characterized as one giant seismically vulnerable subsiding peat marsh.
Randy Fiorini asked Bardini if DWR’s current efforts would result in an overall Delta levee plan. Isenberg stepped in to explain that it wouldn’t. The state does not have an overarching Delta-wide plan for non-project levees, and the subventions program that is in place for cost sharing with the local agencies hasn’t been working for the past couple of years.
Fiorini and especially Hank Nodoff seemed astounded that we lack a comprehensive levee plan. Isenberg went on to explain that the reason the state avoided dealing with local agencies was to avoid liability in the event of a failure. The looks on the faces of the DSC members was priceless: the entire council (except Isenberg, who had a devilish grin on his face) was clearly shocked.
Council members, thank you for having the grace to be appalled by this preposterous state of affairs.