California decision makers are focusing their efforts on specific problems plaguing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta but could accomplish more by incorporating linked system-wide solutions. That’s the message the Delta Vision Foundation sent today to the Governor’s Administration, State agencies, California Legislature, and Federal agencies upon releasing the 2013 Delta Vision Report Card.
“The level of effort and analysis is strong, but the current lack of integration and coordination in plans and actions will not get us where we need to be,” said Delta Vision Foundation President Sunne Wright McPeak. “The importance of linked actions that treat the whole patient cannot be over-emphasized; tunnel vision will not be sufficient to deal with the Delta’s many challenges.”
The Delta Vision Report Card assigns letter grades to State and Federal Agencies, the Governor’s Administration and Legislature, and on stakeholder cooperation. Grades reflect progress on implementing the linked actions recommended in the 2008 Delta Vision Strategic Plan and results in achieving the Two Co-Equal Goals of (1) restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem and (2) ensuring a reliable water supply for California. This year, the Legislature received the lowest grade while several Delta agencies and the State Water Resources Control Board, received high marks. Overall, the lack of progress on near-term actions was particularly concerning to analysts.
The annual evaluation grades implementing agencies for their leadership, strategic direction, coordination, results, and accountability, and is based on the observations and perspectives provided by agency representatives, stakeholders, and water leaders from around the state. The Delta Vision Foundation conducted an internal assessment and also asked each agency to complete a self-evaluation. Two challenges specifically noted in the final analysis were stakeholder conflict and public accountability.
“While the State is working hard to resolve the Delta’s problems, there is a lack of public accountability and issue resolution when making far-reaching decisions,” said DVF Board Director Mike Madigan, former Chair of the San Diego County Water Authority, California Water Commission and Bay Delta Advisory Council. “Without leadership, commitment, and action, the State and stakeholders will remain in an endless loop of plan, approve, sue, and plan again.”
Dr. Raymond Seed, professor of civil and environmental engineering at U.C. Berkeley agreed, saying that unless conflicts were resolved and near-term actions implemented, “The State of California is one earthquake, one extended drought, or one series of heavy spring storms away from catastrophic environmental and economic losses for the people and species that depend on the Delta.”