At scoping meetings in January, the Delta Stewardship Council heard from seven California regions that will be affected by the Delta Plan, either because they are in Delta watershed areas or because they get water from the Delta. The Proposed Planning Area for the Delta Plan Environmental Impact Report covers half the state.
At the scoping meeting in San Joaquin County, which contains a third of the Delta, Jonas Minton, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, and Bill Jennings presented scoping comments from a diverse coalition of 30 national and local environmental, fishing and environmental justice groups. This coalition made detailed recommendations for settling California water wars and recovering the San Francisco Bay-Delta watershed. The complete document submitted to the Council can be viewed here.
Included in the coalition comments is a call for the Delta Plan EIR to consider a variety of conveyance options as well as the option of NO conveyance.
Among others presenting comments in San Joaquin County was Dr. Robert Pyke, a civil engineering consultant based in Lafayette with 40 years of experience in geotechnical, earthquake and water resources engineering in Australia and California. Dr. Pyke reminded the Council that the Delta Plan must recognize the need for both more natural flows through the Delta and the extreme variability of precipitation in California.
Dr. Pyke also noted that the failure of the BDCP to produce a completed draft document gives the DSC the opportunity to put “the horse . . . properly ahead of the cart” and give the Delta Plan its own guidelines for improved conveyance and storage, which the BDCP would then have to follow. We will look at some of Dr. Pyke’s suggestions in more detail in a coming newsletter.
A different angle on scoping for a Delta Plan EIR came from analyst Deirdre Des Jardins, who addressed the issue of energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions associated with long-distance water transfers. In written comments to the DSC, Des Jardins also commented on the risk to the solvency of the State Water Project caused by projected increases in of 50% in the cost of electricity by 2030.