What’s next for the Delta Plan

Chris Stevens gave a briefing on the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) regulation adoption process. With respect to the 5th draft of the Delta Plan, Stevens said it was important that local government agencies retain the power to self-certify local projects, but they still may require approval by, or be appealed to, the Council.

Stevens walked the council through the plan adoption process. Following submission of the plan, OAL will examine and analyze effects on local and state business, effects on government-mandated programs, and the CEQA effects analysis.

He noted there is a 45 day public comment period following submission to OAL.

Stevens reminded the Council that they could adopt a plan once they have completed their EIR, but the plan will have no regulatory effect until the OAL signs off on it.

DSC Executive Officer Joe Grindstaff reminded the council that producing a good plan was more important than meeting the deadline and reminded the council of the importance of incorporating and addressing the comments that would be coming out of next month’s working groups.

In public comments, several speakers voiced concern about the economic effects of future water demands on counties of origin and senior water rights holders.  Councilmember Fiorini questioned the priority of SWRCB flow recommendations for in-Delta flows and streams tributary to the Delta and asked whether one should trump the other, if there was to be a conflict. Basically, should water users upstream of the Delta be saddled with meeting flow requirements into the Delta, requiring them to forgo water that would be put to beneficial use in an area where the water originates to facilitate exporting water from the system?

Grindstaff responded that the only route to having regulatory or enforceable requirements dictating rights to divert water would be a lengthy and expensive adjudication of the watershed (he estimated a cost in the neighborhood of $30 M).   Isenberg commented that he was conceptually in favor of it , although he pointed out that “it may require 4 additional meetings in which hundreds of lawyers come yell at us.”

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