Among the scientists who have been scrutinizing the BDCP is a panel of Independent Science Advisors reporting to the Delta Stewardship Council. This panel met over two days last week on whether BDCP is meeting the best available science standard in analyzing the effects of the planned project on species.
The half-dozen scientists on the panel asked the BDCP consultants (mainly ICF [Jones and Stokes]) a series of illuminating questions for much of the first day in a series of presentations on the Effects Analysis Chapter 5 and appendices. ICF seemed a bit out of their depth in terms of not having a common scientific understanding of the technical issues.
The advisors were primarily concerned about
- the ability of the proposed restoration to meet the BDCP-expected food for fish
- the potential impacts of using aquatic herbicides throughout the Delta
- the failure of flow models to account for the proposed Yolo Bypass flows.
In particular, the science advisors were very concerned about the lack of clarity on the effects of the project on specific life stages of salmonids.
Overall, BDCP consultants were aware of the primary concerns and, to their credit, had struggled with how to complete some of those sections and address some of those considerations. In other areas the consultants seemed surprised about the concerns, despite have been given those comments in writing for the past four years by various parties. The consultants have a mixed record in responding to the panels by changing elements of the plan. For the proposed project to even attempt to meet its environmental goals, it has to respond to the advisors’ concerns by reworking the plan.