Yesterday, Restore the Delta submitted a comment letter to the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) criticizing three synthesis papers seeking to support eventual amendments to a Delta Plan chapter addressing ecosystem restoration. Specifically, the letter identifies gaps in the DSC’s attempt to apply “best available science” to ecological stressors in the Delta, climate change affecting the Delta, and ecosystem and habitat restoration efforts in the Delta.
The DSC has indicated that this amendment process will conclude sometime in 2019.
Author of the letter and Restore the Delta’s policy analyst, Tim Stroshane writes,
“We find the synthesis papers less than synthetic. We identified gaps in their papers concerning interactions between contaminants like selenium and mercury and invasive and other species, the growing deficit of sediment for wetlands trapped behind upstream reservoirs (which affects whether restoration projects can survive sea level rise), and other omissions from adaptive management.”
Executive director of Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla commented,
“To date, the DSC has spent $200 million in plans and administrative decrees that are made up of recommendations to other agencies. The DSC claims that its legislative mandate limits its powers and thus cannot engage in needed enforcements for the protection and restoration of the estuary. The Independent Science Panel, which does the most important work, sadly has its work misapplied by DSC staff because the Council’s political mandate for management of the Delta is to serve water exporters only. The broad suite of science that examines water quality and quantity needs for the health of the estuary and its people is broadly ignored, social science and economic data analysis is virtually ignored, and the Delta Stewardship Council refuses to make recommendations that protect the Human Right to Water for Delta environmental justice communities and to enforce state anti-discrimination laws within its planning processes.
“For $200 million, we could have expanded staffing at the Delta Protection Commission, an agency that enforces state mandates while working in a professional manner with Delta communities. We could have built fish weirs, contributed funding toward rescreening the existing water pumps at Clifton Court Forebay, completed Delta interim projects agreed to by Restore the Delta and Westlands Water District as needing completion, and the DSC could have completed a needed water availability analysis to examine if the proposed Delta tunnels would have enough access to water flows to be a truly viable project. There are better ways to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to improve the Delta than on the Delta Stewardship Council.”