Science tries not to trip on policy

The DSC heard from Dr. Richard Norgaard, the new Delta Independent Science Board Chair.  Dr. Norgaard showed an inclination to be . . . well, independent.  He told the DSC that the charge to the Board is immense and expressed concern with the time frame for reviewing White Papers.  He commented on the conflict with the BDCP process and declined to rank stressors.

DSC Chair Isenberg told him that the DSC will push the Science Board, and Norgaard agreed that the DSC could make unreasonable demands but implied that they wouldn’t necessarily be met.

The DSC heard presentations on White Papers on the Delta Ecosystem and Delta Flood Risk.  They also received a Preliminary Notice of Preparation (NOP), the first step in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process.   In a cover memo, DSC Executive Officer Joe Grindstaff noted that a key issue in the NOP that “might be controversial” is the secondary planning area which could cover most of the state.

(The Primary Planning Area is within the Delta.  The Secondary Planning area is the Delta watershed and areas that use Delta water.)

The presentation on the Delta Ecosystem White Paper included a PowerPoint with a chart indicating that Delta water use has remained stable for decades while export water use has increased.  The presenter said that he had been asked to mention that changes in cropping patterns in the Delta had hardened demand – a gratuitous observation under the circumstances, and one which even the DSC members seemed to find inappropriate.

It prompted council members Fiorini and Nottoli to request a White Paper on Delta Agriculture.

In public comments, Restore the Delta pointed out that water demand has hardened statewide and suggested that the DSC consider any changes in Delta cropping patterns in that context.  The DSC will have to look into this because they are required to promote sustainable use of water in the Secondary Planning Area – which is just about everywhere in California.

On the subject of Flood Risk, someone noted that how we handle flood protection depends on what we would like the Delta to look like in the future.  Restore the Delta notes that not all “we’s” have the same future in mind.

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