A place for theory, a place for practice

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has released its final report on the Delta. This is the study initiated over two years ago at Senator Feinstein’s request, and at the urging of people like Stewart Resnick. The hope was that “objective” scientists from somewhere else would come up with answers more to the liking of export interests than the answers they were getting from scientists associated with agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Delta Science Program.

Asked to rank stressors, the committee of NAS scientists refused, advising instead that stressors be managed “in the aggregate.” They did say that water delivery in dry years will have to be reduced if the ecosystem is to ever again be self-sustaining. They wondered about what “co-equal goals” really means in practice.

So. Nothing new here.

Engineer Dr. Robert Pyke points out that the reason some of the nation’s brightest minds can’t tell us how to solve the Delta’s problems is that they are all, well, scientists.

“Scientists do not solve problems,” he points out, “they just study them. Solutions to multi-disciplinary problems do require co-operation between engineers and scientists and policy-makers, but a solution to the water conveyance problem through the Delta and the physical aspects of ecosystem restoration are engineering issues.”

Dr. Pyke adds that it is not longer true that engineers don’t adequately address environmental issues. “Ecologic engineering . . . is where future leadership on these complex issues will come from.”

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