At its August 26th meeting, the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) looked at pending legislation, science and new studies, and a parks proposal for the Delta.
(Even though Restore the Delta staff is fully cognizant of the billions of dollars spent on the Delta planning processes of the last twenty year, we are regularly re- amazed during public meetings at the number of people making their living by planning changes to our ecosystem, to our home in the Delta – and to the state’s entire water system – with minimal public input. The Delta management industry truly emblemizes big government.)
The Council got an update on how the focus of state government is shifting to water issues now that a budget has been passed. The Governor is talking about a bond re-write and a peripheral canal. Three legislative bills got special mention:
- AB 576 (Dickinson) requiring development of a long-term finance plan.
- SB 34 (Simitian) to finance a water resources investment program.
- AB 157 (Jefferies) a re-write of the water bond with 25% across the board reduction.
Assemblymember Bill Berryhill has a also introduced a bill (AB 1283) that will allow for a bond re-write later.
Delta Science Program Lead Scientist Cliff Dahm has committed to a 20% time contract for the remainder of the year, as he is returning to his duties at University of New Mexico. There is currently one applicant for his replacement, Dr. Peter Goodwin from University of Idaho.
Reporting in Dahm’s place, Lauren Hastings announced that the Delta Science program has been asked to conduct a two stage Independent Review of the BDCP effects analysis. A panel of seven members will perform the two analyses and is expected to release a report in Spring 2012.
Hastings noted that there is little precedent for such a broad habitat conservation plan/natural communities conservation plan (HCP/NCCP) with a primarily aquatic focus. “We will be breaking new ground,” she said.
Hastings went on to mention that she believes this preliminary review will be helpful in the future when the Delta Independent Science Board (ISB) will perform it’s review of the BDCP environmental impact report (EIR). It is unclear if any other the reviewing members will be on the ISB panel, but it sounds like there is a potential for conflict of interest.