Staff report on Fifth Draft comments

Staff reported that they had separated comments received on the Fifth Draft of the Delta Plan into two types: those related to changes in the Plan’s policies and recommendations, and those related to the supporting text.

Comments that suggest changes in the Plan’s policies and recommendations fell into the following categories (see this table ):

  • covered actions (which were discussed at length during the meeting)
  • interagency coordination in implementing the Delta Plan
  • requirements that water reliability be tied to reduced reliance on the Delta and on conservation efforts
  • transparency in water contracting
  • reducing procedural and administrative impediments to water transfers
  • making it easier to recycle water and reuse storm water
  • updates on Delta flow requirements
  • priorities for State investment in Delta levees
  • Delta flood risk management
  • land use in the Delta

Of 20 comments identified as “major,” staff agreed or partially agreed with 19 and disagreed with one.

Comments that suggest revisions to the organization, structure, content, and/or terminology of the Delta Plan’s supporting text fell into the following categories (see this table):

  • general structure, organization and content of the Fifth Draft (lack of cohesion, no clear plan framework, no clear performance measures)
  • adaptive management (not applied well throughout the plan, inadequate performance measures)
  • inadequate emphasis on Delta as Place
  • inadequate definition of co-equal goals and other terms in statute
  • concerns about treatment of BDCP
  • concerns about treatment of flow objectives and parallel Water Board processes
  • concerns about funding

Of 12 comments identified as “major,” staff agreed or partially agreed with 11 and disagreed with one.

So where did staff disagree with commenters? In each case, the issue was flow objectives. What happens if the SWRCB (Water Board) misses the target date for updating and implementing flow objectives, which the DSC is supposed to use to determine consistency of projects with the coequal goals? As a policy matter, the DSC would use existing flow objectives until June 2, 2014, when the Water Board is scheduled to adopt and implement updated flow requirements for the Delta. The disagreement relates to “nonbinding flow criteria for high-priority tributaries in the Delta Watershed, necessary to achieve the coequal goals.” Some commenters, including the San Joaquin River Group Authority, apparently thought target dates for this were unrealistic, but staff set a target date anyway: June 2, 2018.

The same commenters didn’t want the Delta Plan to encourage SWRCB to undergo parallel development of flow objectives concurrent with BDCP flow efforts. Staff disagreed, saying “SWRCB supports this language and is working on objectives in conjunction with BDCP process.” This sounds to us like a distinction without a difference. What, really, is the difference between parallel development and working in conjunction? Either way, we’re worried that BDCP will have too much influence on the Water Board. And as noted above, the BDCP still hasn’t come up with a flow analysis to inform its effects analysis.

There’s no decision yet on changes in the Sixth Draft or whether the DSC will need to circulate a new EIR.

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