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 Paper as “an enviable compilation of statistics, but it misses the overall character of agriculture in the Delta.” Some of the material in the White Paper could, he said, lead to false conclusions.
The DSC also considered a Water Resources White paper.
The portion of the White Paper dealing with Tulare Lake generated a lot of Council discussion. Patrick Johnson suggested that surface water from the SWP allowed users in the San Joaquin Valley and the Tulare Lake basin to avoid groundwater adjudication, which would require them to determine a safe yield from aquifers.
DSC member Randy Fiorini warned against generalizing about the San Joaquin Valley and noted that there are balanced conjunctive use projects in the region.
But Isenberg noted that Tulare Lake demand has exceeded supply for over 100 years. He suggested that the DSC needs to consider whether surface water should be available to meet “both prudent and imprudent overdrafts.”
DSC Executive Director Joe Grindstaff commented that water use statewide is greater than supply because we have been pulling water out of the ground that we don’t replace. Fiorini commented that the real crisis is in groundwater overdraft. Then, asked Isenberg, should surface water go to replenish groundwater first?
Replenish groundwater first? Make judgments about cropping decisions both in the Delta and around California? These are the kinds of determinations that the legislation empowers the DSC to make.
To see the White Papers that the DSC has been considering, go to http://www.deltacouncil.ca.gov/white-papers.html
The DSC will be holding Delta Plan scoping meetings around the state in January. For a schedule, go to http://www.deltacouncil.ca.gov/scoping.html