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Delta Vision to the Stewardship Council: What are you waiting for?

The transition from Delta Vision, created in 2006 by Executive Order of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, to the current Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) has looked pretty seamless. It was the Delta Vision “Blue Ribbon” Task Force chaired by Phil Isenberg that pushed forward the idea of co-equal goals for the Delta, later enshrined in the 2009 water legislation’s SBX7 1.

When the DSC was formed under the Delta Reform Act, Isenberg slipped easily into the position of chair. And the rest of the Delta Vision task force formed the Delta Visions Foundation (DVF) “as an independent body to continue to advance the integrated set of recommendations and strategies proposed in the Delta Vision Strategic Plan.”

At the beginning of March, the DVF convened a roundtable on the subject of Delta levees. The result is letters to Isenberg and to Natural Resources Agency secretary John Laird calling for the state to get busy and start fixing levees.

The DVF’s recommendations:

  • Follow up on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Task Force Report on emergency management and help the Delta Protection Commission get grant funds to develop coordinated regional emergency response
  • Improve levees to the PL 84-99 standard within the next three years
  • Prioritize levee improvements to protect existing through-Delta water conveyance and other infrastructure
  • Get everybody together to identify islands where ecosystem protection and restorations can be coupled with levee improvement
  • Secure funding for immediate and near-term actions on levees

The DVF suggests putting language in the May Revise of the Governor’s budget to specifically commit bond funds – reportedly $300-$400 million – for critical levee projects.

They’re still carrying on about seismic risk. And Delta Vision is all about co-equal goals; a serious consideration of the Delta as a place never made it into their final report and only got into the subsequent legislation with heavy lobbying by local legislators like Assemblymember Mariko Yamada and Senator Lois Wolk. The DVF’s latest recommendations are biased towards what the water contractors want. But with a few additions to the priority list, the Delta’s own interests would be served if the Stewardship Council followed these recommendations.

Click here to see the DVF’s letter to Isenberg.

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