Uncertainty. Flexibility. Resilience. Adaptive capacity.

These are probably not words the BDCP Steering Committee ever wanted to have to use.

But they came up time and again when the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) met last week.

The DSC got an update on the BDCP and considered how to incorporate BDCP material into the Delta Plan – or not.

Chair Phil Isenberg noted that the BDCP will not be completed in time to include it in the Delta Plan. To meet the statutory mandate, the Delta Plan has to go forward with improved conveyance and ecosystem restoration, with or without BDCP.  He asked outside consultant ARCADIS and the DSC staff to tell the Council what parts of BDCP are useful and reasonably ready to use.

The BDCP’s goal for water supply has been to restore it to what contractors used to get.  Councilmember Patrick Johnston noted that the DSC will not be able to describe its goal that way.

The message from several presenters was that what needs to happen in the Delta is to build adaptive capacity, resilience in the face of uncertainty.  One presenter actually said that to the extent that reliability works against resilience, you can’t meet the coequal goals.

The next big issue related to BDCP is the effects analysis: What will be the effects of the strategies that BDCP proposes?  Although the BDCP process is on a “hiatus,” there was discussion of releasing an effects analysis this coming spring.

The adaptive range for species recovery will affect water supply reliability, and not just for SWP users.  Isenberg said that he wants as much analysis of water supply alternatives as of ecosystem impacts.

Gary Bobker of the Bay Institute has been an ongoing participant in the BDCP process.  He said that the state and federal responses to the BDCP report mischaracterize it.  Said Bobker, “It’s a mess.”

Bobker said that the effects analysis to date has focused not on recovery of species but on not making things worse.  Adaptive management is not in the plan.  In addition to flow and habitat restoration, the plan ultimately must be tied to what is happening with water management outside the Delta.

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