The UC Davis Watershed Science’s California Water Policy Seminar Series continued on January 28th, 2013 with water wars veteran and chair of the Delta Stewardship Council Phil Isenberg. A former mayor of Sacramento and Assemblyman, his focus as an elected official included land use planning, water and resource issues, as well as state budget and fiscal matters. After leaving the legislature, Mr. Isenberg served as chair of the California Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force and chairman of the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force before being appointed to the Delta Stewardship Council by Governor Schwarzenegger and elected Chair of the Council by his colleagues. A self-described “grumpy old water guy,” Mr. Isenberg shared his views on the Delta and the emerging Bay Delta Conservation Plan, as well as why he is feeling optimistic about California’s water future.
“We’ve been a state in the union for 163 years. We have been arguing about water each and every year since. I predict with absolute certainty that we will continue to argue about water for as long as we are a society,” began Phil Isenberg. As a recovering politician, his general impression is that people can only remember so much about complicated subjects, and so if they were around 30 years ago, they’d remember they were fighting about the peripheral canal: “If that’s what you remember then … you’d still fight that fight today because that how you understand it.”
Mr. Isenberg cautioned that when talking to most people about water, it is important to use general terms that people can understand: “As you pursue your academic career, don’t forget to speak in simple English if you wish anyone to understand you and if you wish your ideas to have an impact.”
The Delta has been the focus of the attention in California water for at least the last 70 years. “It’s not an unfair characterization because roughly about 40% of the water that flows off all the watersheds in California historically flows to the Delta, then to the San Francisco Bay, and finally to the ocean,” Mr. Isenberg said. The urge to move water from the Delta to somewhere else started early and continues today.
Of all the water that is consumed in California, only 15% is exported from the Delta statewide. And of the water that is exported from the Delta, only about 15% of it goes across the Tehachapis “to the evil forces of the octopus, Southern California, swimming pools of utopia, and surfboarding regimes. The lion share goes to valley agriculture between Stockton and Bakersfield, and a surprisingly large amount goes to the Bay Area,” he noted.
But of course, water politics are regional politics, and they’ve always been regional politics, he said. Those of us who live in Northern California, “we know who is good, we know who is right, we know who is perfect, we know who is blameless, and we know who should not pay for anything. It’s us. And who is left? You, all of you!,” Mr. Isenberg said. “But the reality is … all of us who live in Northern California and use water from the watershed of the Delta … we use twice as much every year as is exported from the Delta.”
You might ask yourself why, if the Delta is only 15% of the total water use each year, and if northerners are the bigger consumers of water, preventing water that used to reach the Delta from getting there, why do we argue about this as a north-south battle? “Well, we’re used to it, and if you don’t explore the issue, you will continue to think that is the battle,” Mr. Isenberg said.
Today’s Delta is radically different from the Delta of the past. It is no longer a place of seasonally flooded wetlands, riverine floodplains or flood basins near natural channels. Most species of native fish have been declining for decades, and there is no permanent improvement yet in sight.
“We have lost in California over 95% of the wetlands in the state, we have lost over 95% of the wetlands and the habitat within the Delta, and they’ve been replaced by people and agriculture and business and a little bit of industry,” he said. “Urban growth is around all of the edges of the Delta, from West Sacramento to Sacramento to Stockton to little towns of Contra Costa County; only Solano County is relatively free because of the Suisun Marsh and military bases that tend to be our greatest protector of urban territory these days albeit unintentionally.”
Human actions have altered or destroyed the historical geography of the Delta, Mr. Isenberg said. We have constructed high levees, narrowed and deepened the river channels bounded by those levees, reduced the number and shape of meandering streams that once characterized the Delta, and completely altered the timing and pulsing of historic water flows into the Delta. Urban runoff, agricultural pollution and the presence of mercury are legacy problems, and almost all result from human uses of water. “Our society favors agriculture and urban development over nature and that is the history, as best I can tell, of virtually every society on earth that I’ve examined,” Mr. Isenberg said.
[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”] “Our society favors agriculture and urban development over nature and that is the history, as best I can tell, of virtually every society on earth that I’ve examined.”[/pullquote]
Upstream water users — those of us in Northern California — use twice as much water as is exported from the Delta, and we donate to the Delta virtually all of our urban runoff, agricultural pollution, legacy mercury contamination, and a host of other problems.
There used to be an old slogan that came into being when we started to seriously regulate pollution, Mr. Isenberg recalled: “The solution to pollution is dilution”. Mr. Isenberg continued: “Now most people think, oh, okay that sounds pretty interesting, but the problem, of course, is that our watershed use affects both the quality of water that eventually reaches the Delta as well as the quantity of that water. So … the real argument that is going on is you can’t take water out of the Delta because that might mean that we might get stuck with the bill for our own pollution and we can avoid that for 60, 70, or 100 years if you just stop taking the water because then our pollution is more diluted.”
Mr. Isenberg recalled that in the late 1960s, the Sacramento Regional Sanitation Plant decided during the planning stages against doing tertiary treatment. So nowadays, “we have this big plant, it is the contributor of 90% of the ammonia that reaches the Delta,” Mr. Isenberg said, noting that scientists have concluded that ammonia and ammonium has in fact contributed to the interruption of the food chain. Now government agencies from West Sacramento, parts of Yolo County, the city of Sacramento as well as the county itself are facing what they claim is a devastating bill of 2 billion dollars.
Mr. Richard Frank and I were colleagues at the time, both living in urban Sacramento, “and you might think we’d lean to the defense of our brethren and neighbors who did not want to pay massive amounts of money for tertiary treatment, but instead, we had the absolutely delightful pleasure of writing one of the stiffest letters to them explaining that their position is unacceptable to argue that our pollution is acceptable, and that downstream users should clean it up on their own, particularly coming from society in Sacramento where the old property owners forced the courts the California in the 1800s to completely close down hydraulic mining in California because of the damage to downstream owners,” Mr. Isenberg said.
The Delta has been dramatically affected by human actions. “We’ve built levees, we’ve made narrow rivers, we’ve channelized the rivers so the water could flow faster, we converted the habitat land into whatever we want to do with it, and yet, the Delta remains a flood prone area,” he noted. There isn’t any credible engineer or flood control expert who can claim to be able to protect Delta residents against all future risk, and yet in spite of this, urban development continues to replace agricultural with houses, and puts new residents at serious risk of death or injury through floods.
Add to that our weather patterns are changing and becoming more erratic, and the average temperature of the earth is rising; this will shrink our snowpacks, possibly doom some fish species, and increase the risk of flooding in the Delta. “Pesky Mother Nature is screwing over our good intentions, and now gosh darn climate change,” said Mr. Isenberg.
In spite of all this, the Delta remains a highly valuable ecosystem and part of the largest estuary in the western hemisphere. “Not only is restoration of the Delta ecosystem in my judgment a moral imperative, but more than that, it is a legal requirement of major water projects of the future,” Mr. Isenberg said. More importantly, restoration offers the chance to protect our water export system, improve the level of flood protection for current residents and help ensure the survival of fish species and improve water quality for all Californians.
[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]“Not only is restoration of the Delta ecosystem in my judgment a moral imperative, but more than that, it is a legal requirement of major water projects of the future.[/pullquote]”
Reality is we’ve been exporting water through and out of the Delta for almost 60 years, and the chance of it stopping anytime soon seems to be remote, Mr. Isenberg said. The real question is how much water, when, where, why, and for what purpose.
Nearly all of the water supply in California comes from precipitation, and records dating back to the 1880s have shown that precipitation trends have changed very little. This suggests that while it was an ample supply when there was little population, as the population has grown, so has the demand for water. Now the overall growing demand for water is bumping up against a finite supply, and “it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that with or without the big Delta tunnel, the future of California is going to be with water efficiency, water conservation, use, reuse, reuse, reuse, and reuse again. And it’s going to cost more money. It doesn’t matter if you build these big things or not, we will still face those dilemmas,” Mr. Isenberg said.
In the early years, we closed down hydraulic mining, we built levees in the Delta, and we sucked the federal government into joining our efforts to protect the flood prone Central Valley, largely at their expense. During the Great Depression, the voters narrowly authorized the Central Valley Project; at that time, Northern California was in support of moving water to valley. In 1960, the voters again, narrowly, passed the State Water Project.
And then, environmental problems start to happen and environmental groups are born, and “Californians say, hey, we like the environment, we want to protect the environment, and all of a sudden, we’re no longer protecting our water supply system just so you and I can drink in it or swim in it, now we’re protecting it for a lot of other things as well,” he said.
Prior to the State Water Project, we had been moving water from the Delta, but now we were moving serious amounts of water, so Governor Brown decided to build a peripheral canal, Mr. Isenberg said. “Now the idea had been kicking around for decades, nothing new about the idea, and the voters of California narrowly approved that, which authorized the shipping of water south from the Delta to the Mexican border, and the voters also authorized the imprecise construction of the dams and facilities and all that kind of stuff to do so,” he said. And it is that legal authority, by statute, that is what this fight has been about ever since.
In 1980, after a bitter political battle, the peripheral canal was passed by the legislature, again narrowly. In 1982, the matter was put in front the voters in a referendum: “It was an interesting coalition, all of us Northerners and our allies, and the famous environmental farmers of the Central Valley, Mr. Boswell and Mr. Salyer. The latter rejected the peripheral canal because it was tied to a constitutional amendment to prohibit taking water from the North Coast Rivers.” And so the voters of California said no by a significant majority.
After the ballot referendum failed, the idea of a peripheral canal was not taken up seriously until the Scharzenegger administration. In 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Mr. Isenberg to chair the Delta Vision committee, which helped outline policy changes that were reflected, in part, in the 2009 water/Delta bill package. “The legislature, to our absolute astonishment, did good work. I predicted our chance of success in the legislature was less than 10%. I was the most pessimistic. To my absolute astonishment, they passed a package of bills that came pretty close to what we recommended,” Mr. Isenberg said.
First of all, state policy is now the coequal goals, which is a more reliable water system for California and a protected and restored Delta ecosystem. This should be done in a way that is sensitive to the unique features of the Delta “as it’s a place where real people live, it’s not just a recreation area or a water supply system,” he said.
The second thing they put into law is a policy of reduced reliance on the Delta: “The policy of the State of California is to reduce reliance on the Delta in meeting California’s future water supply needs through a statewide strategy of investing in improved regional supplies, conservation, and water use efficiency,“ quoted Mr. Isenberg from the statute, noting that the statute made the requirement statewide.
“Now, normal people would look at that, there’s the law, that’s it. But this is California, this is America, it doesn’t happen that way. It doesn’t matter whether laws or passed, it matters whether people like the laws that are passed,” he said.
Mr. Isenberg noted that he is big fan of the late conservative academic John Q. Wilson who wrote the book, “Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It”, contrasting American public decision making with European parliamentary decision making. Mr. Isenberg quoted: “Policy making in the United States is more like a barroom brawl: Anybody can join in, the combatants fight all comers and sometimes change sides, no referee is in charge, and the fight lasts not for a fixed number of rounds but indefinitely or until everybody drops from exhaustion. To repeat former Secretary of State George Schultz’s remark, “It’s never over.”
“That is so spot on in public policy in this country, I cannot tell you how right that is,” Mr. Isenberg said. “And it’s that conflict on how we make decisions and what we’re willing to concede that really this business is all about.”
Turning to the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan, Mr. Isenberg said that since the peripheral canal battle in 1982, it had not really been seriously discussed. However, the plan was revived during the Schwarzenegger administration, and the process has been going on now for 7 years. “A minimum of $150 million dollars has already been spent – money from the water exporter communities, water districts, mostly from Central Valley and Southern California, but not exclusively … another $100 million will be needed to complete the process,” he said.
So the basic question is will a big new Delta water export facility be built anytime soon? “Nothing in public policy in America, whether it’s the water world, health care, or criminal justice, happens fast,” Mr. Isenberg said. “The BDCP’s been plugging along and all this work is backed by impressive science – I didn’t say it was accurate science and I didn’t say that I agree with their conclusions – but the process is pretty impressive and it is backed by a lot of study and research, including economic studies that are going on.” Mr. Isenberg continued: “America is a country where everybody gets to demand that any idea they have be studied before any notion be approved by government. I know that’s not the law, but that’s the view of Americans. The BDCP has studied all kinds of ideas, basically they will come out soon with a draft, maybe four or five months now, a finished product meaning ready for circulation for additional comments.”
The process needs to be completed so there is an actual proposal, and there will be a lot of clearances needed, explained Mr. Isenberg: “They have to get take permits for endangered species from the federal government, they have to clear CEQA requirements, and they have to clear new statutory requirements imposing duties of study and research and consideration imposed by the 2009 statute. And even to their absolute horror, they may actually have to appear in front of us, the Delta Stewardship Council, because we have a piece of the action; if people don’t believe that the approval of the BDCP satisfies the conditions of the law, they can then appeal it to us,” said Mr. Isenberg, noting that it doesn’t put the Council high on the list of favored characters.
They will have to get clearances before they can even buy property or right of way for construction, he said, noting that they’re still suing to go on property in the Delta to do soil samples to see if the property is suitable or not. If they identify property, whether it’s for a water facility or for environmental purposes, they then have to go out and negotiate a price at fair market value. And once past that, they can start construction, but there will likely be the lawsuits too, he noted. “From today, the earliest you’d move water through any tunnel of any size is somewhere between ten and fifteen years,” said Mr. Isenberg. “Americans demand fast action also demand complete participation and no controversy and the end result is this.”
So how big is the facility going to be? It’s getting smaller, said Mr. Isenberg, noting that the old peripheral canal was a surface ditch 43 miles long with a capacity of 21,800 cfs; the BDCP is was at first a tunnel with a capacity of 15,000 cfs; and at a press conference in July of last year, Governor Brown and Secretary Salazar announced the tunnel had been downsized to 9,000 cubic feet per second.
“If you don’t like the tunnel, it could be the tiniest, teeniest, toy tunnel in the world, you won’t like it. And Delta area legislators have been nearly-universalin opposition to big tunnels, medium sized tunnels, small tunnels, any tunnel,” said Mr. Isenberg.
He continued: “I don’t have any idea how big the facilities going to be. It would not surprise me to see further adjustments in the size. A lot of it has to do with the federal environmental agencies and whether they believe that the size of the tunnel is tied to the question of the amount of water that will be taken from the Delta and that it either helps or doesn’t help the fish species.”
Will the tunnel export more water, less water, or the same amount of water? “The answer is yes, we don’t know,” said Mr. Isenberg. Last year an intriguing thing happened: “The rumor began to float around that the water contractors were no longer asking for legal guarantees on the amount of water that would be taken from the Delta. I can’t tell you how odd that sounds to someone in the water world, because everyone wants guarantees, whether it’s guarantees on water deliveries or the number of salmon that pass a certain point at March 31st of every year,” he said, adding “Americans may be risk takers but we want legal guarantees and protection. That’s just the way we are as a people.”
[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]”The rumor began to float around that the water contractors were no longer asking for legal guarantees on the amount of water that would be taken from the Delta. I can’t tell you how odd that sounds to someone in the water world, because everyone wants guarantees, whether it’s guarantees on water deliveries or the number of salmon that pass a certain point at March 31st of every year.”[/pullquote]
Mr. Isenberg said he just dismissed the rumors for awhile, but “to my absolute astonishment, when the Governor and Secretary Salazar called a press conference, the staff packet included a description that said we are embracing scientific uncertainty,” he said. And that’s what scientists tell us all the time. “We [policymakers] ask Jay [Lund], how are you going to protect fish? And Jay says, you gotta do a lot of things but we can’t guarantee that the fish will actually get better. We say, what do you mean you can’t guarantee that the fish will get better? You’re a scientist! You’re acknowledged to be the big cheeses in the profession, and reasonable people want to know that if we spend a bazillion dollars and we do all this kind of stuff, we must get something good for it.”
Mr. Isenberg continued: “I am just dumbfounded to this minute that the water contractors seem sort of willing to contemplate what is in fact a truth so fundamental … the more we guarantee anything, whether it is money for health care, money for education, lower taxes, water for people, water for farms, water for the environment, the more you guarantee without referencing the available supply, the more problems you’re going to have.”
Water contracts and water rights are built on the notion that if people ask for something, you say yes to it, even if you’ve written deep down in the bowels of the contract that if the water isn’t available from nature, you can’t get it, Mr. Isenberg said: “Nobody believes that, or they certainly don’t act like it, so if this is an honest discussion, it is in public policy terms revolutionary, because it starts to recognize the apparent uncertainty of man trying to control nature and face human expectations on an artificial premise.” It also will make environmentalists uneasy because they have learned to ask for guarantees, and feel that by conceding the point, they will lose their negotiating leverage.
The Governor and the Secretary also said in their press conference that science will guide water exports and environmental restoration in the BDCP, noted Mr. Isenberg. But what it really implies is that first off, scientific decisions on the level of water exports will be involved.
“Out of the BDCP’s 17000 pages in the environmental impact report and the 5000 pages in the BDCP plan, there are actually 32 pages that are worth your effort to take a look,” said Mr. Isenberg. Chapter 7 of the BDCP covers governance and science, and it is a serious attempt to bring together under one umbrella multiple state and federal agencies, each with different duties and statutory mandates concerning water and the Delta ecosystem. At this point, it is not clear how the proposed management/science system will work. It is potentially something new and different: creation of a science-based process of making decisions for multiple federal and state agencies.
However, the current BDCP governance proposal is for a complicated set of committees, advisory bodies and the like, which appear to separate water operations from ecosystem operations, placing each in a different organizational silo. It is hard to see how bifurcated water and ecosystem science and decision-making meets the requirements of the coequal goals, let alone the direction of the Governor and the Secretary on the role of science.
“I don’t want to overstate the issue, but it is not without significance that not a single environmental group, not a single group of scientists, not even the folks here at the Watershed Sciences group that do reports like every 35 minutes, not one of them has presented an alternative governance or science structure position paper,” Mr. Isenberg said.
“So is it independent science or are they going to depend on science by the advocacy group, this feared thing called ‘combat science … ?’” said Mr. Isenberg. “Nobody knows.” Also is the BDCP required to comply with the coequal goals of state law? This question was asked years ago, Mr. Isenberg said, and I don’t think anybody knows the answer. “I think they say we sure hope not because it might confuse things a lot. As a practical question, are they required to?”
Will BDCP include assumptions about decreased reliance on delta water for future uses? Right now, they are not asking for legal guarantees, “but I think people are going to shift to ‘but we would like reasonable assurances,’” noted Mr. Isenberg.
Mr. Isenberg has other questions about the BDCP: How will pending new water quality standards be incorporated into the BDCP? And apart from that, who pays for what? The water contractors have said they will pay for the construction, operation and maintenance of the new facility, and they will pay for legally required mitigation. Are all the 29 water contractors willing to sign a binding agreement to pay the cost of BDCP and associated mitigation? Is the federal or state funding available and able to be allocated, or is it just hope to find funding in the future?
“I call myself a grumpy old water guy; I’ve been in this pool of water for 45 years, and I’m still grumpy, but in spite of all the questions I’ve got about BDCP, I’m a little more optimistic that I thought I would be,” Mr. Isenberg said, noting that he reads in the tea leaves a political deal in the works. “Every once in a while someone pops up with something which if you read the tea leaves, is an offer to talk. It’s not a promise to support, it’s an offer to talk. The political skill is trying to find your way through the adjectives, invectives and high volume and pick up the elements.”
In January of last year, the Metropolitan Water District joined with six Northern Californian water agencies in January stating their joint support for spending the state’s $163 million on various designated levee improvements. “It’s always easy to spend somebody else’s money,” said Mr. Isenberg, noting that it was a small but significant sign that started a discussion on Delta levees projects that might also benefit state interests in the Delta. Shortly afterwards, local Delta interests and environmental groups came up with an unprioritized list of 43 projects with a $1 Billion price tag, “showing that you can actually improve on spending someone else’s money,” noted Mr. Isenberg. This was, nonetheless, a major concession on all sides.
The Delta interests have been inherently suspicious of anything except payment for improving Delta levees, mainly because it may imply that BDCP improved water facilities or restoration of land for habitat purposes might occur – which they oppose, he said.
The State and Federal Water Contractors are going to improve the ecosystem benefits of 1,485 acres owned by Westlands Water District within the Yolo Floodplain, said Mr. Isenberg. The key point is that Contractors are willing to pay the restoration costs as part of their current obligations to satisfy the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Biological Opinion for smelt. They are not waiting for BDCP. This is very significant, although eventual BDCP environmental credit could be given. Mr. Isenberg noted also that the Nature Conservancy owns the McCormick/Williamson tract in the North Delta, and has been trying to find a government buyer for years; now interest in this property is growing and it clearly is a possible inclusion in a short list of near-term restoration projects.
Mr. Isenberg gave his vision for what a legislative deal on near-term actions in the Delta should look like. The near-term actions would simultaneously seek to improve the current Delta water export system, improve the Delta ecosystem and implement flood control projects that serve the state goals in the Delta, as well as providing increased flood protection for local Delta residents; accelerate the maintenance and repair of the State Water Project, including hiring and retention of key personnel, and identify a small number of key environmental projects in the Delta previously discussed, together with floodplain expansion and creation, which is essential.
The projects should test the idea of science guiding both water and environmental decisions, by utilizing existing federal and state agencies and bodies of independent scientific judgment as the basis for implementing and managing these near-term actions. “Maybe there’s a way to do near term actions and test some of the theories and learn from those tests so that the larger projects and our systems can respond,” said Mr. Isenberg. He also supports giving fast track authority to the new science-informed governing body that will implement and manage the near-term actions. “This does not mean abolishing CEQA,” Mr. Isenberg said.
And lastly, “put a fence around it of modest dollars,” said Mr. Isenberg, adding “the fence I would put around it is near term actions, $1 billion, to be spent and completed over 10 years.” Mr. Isenberg noted that it is a lot of money, but every year in California, even during the recession, agency spending routinely is around $20 billion on water and wastewater operations, and another $5 to $6 Billion a year for capital improvements. “A billion dollars in that context is pretty mild, and it comes from contractors, water districts who benefit, property owners and some from the state so it’s doable,” Mr. Isenberg said.
Calling Governor Brown ‘one of the most intriguing politcal figures I’ve ever met’, Mr. Isenberg noted that Governor Brown takes great pleasure in confounding his supporters and critics. He is a progressive Democrat who supports more funds for education, high-speed rail and steps to minimize the impacts of climate change and he really believes in balanced budgets and frugality. He wants to improve our existing water projects — “i volo impetro cacas factum”, as he famously said. He wants to protect the environment too. He enthusiastically defies conventional political wisdom. “He is a guy who means it when he says we have to learn to live within our means. We don’t like that. California is supposed to be opportunity without limits,” said Mr. Isenberg.
Ironically, Governor Brown talks about the budget of the state and the opportunities to do good in the same language used by the National Academies of Science when they talked about water in California. These NAS folks are real hotshots in the science world, and they issued a report in March of last year titled Sustainable Water and Environmental Management in the California Bay-Delta, and they said some surprising things, noted Mr. Isenberg, quoting from the report:
“The future will require planning and management that specifically acknowledge and take into account that there is not enough water to meet all desired uses in California with the required degree of reliability everywhere and all the time.”
“The fact of water scarcity does not mean that the state is ‘running out of water.’ Although most surface flows have been fully allocated or over-allocated, the state can use a number of tools that optimize the use of existing supplies.”
“The historic strategy of developing storage and conveyance facilities in response to growth in water demand is being replaced with a variety of supply and demand-management alternatives, including conservation…”
“…the Delta as it was before large-scale alteration by humans (before about 1880) cannot be recovered.”
When speaking of the Delta, “Consideration of the large number of stressors and their effects and interactions leads to the conclusion that efforts to eliminate any one stressor are unlikely to reverse declines in the listed species.”
“Given the diverse set of organisms and processes that constitute the Delta ecosystem, the ultimate success of any approach targeted to particular species seems doubtful.”
Governor Brown would say these things in a more colorful way; he would parse each comment to reflect his view, maybe even throw in some Latin, said Mr. Isenberg. Ultimately, however, the Governor and the National Academy of Science, each in their own way are saying the same thing: Be prudent…..make choices…..do things!
“That sounds good to me,” Mr. Isenberg concluded.
Click here for the video of Mr. Isenberg’s speech.
Click here for Mr. Isenberg’s speech notes, complete with references.
Click here to visit the Delta Stewardship Council website.
Click here to look for posts of the other speakers in the California Water Policy Seminar Series.