Creating a policy-science interface: The Delta Science Plan

Delta Science Plan cover
The first draft of the Delta Science Plan is now available for review and comment.

Creating an effective interface for decision makers and scientists to communicate and coordinating science efforts across the multiple entities doing science in the Delta are some of the ambitious goals of a unique and little-known planning process currently underway: the creation of a Delta Science Plan.

The Delta Science Program and Lead Scientist Dr. Peter Goodwin are developing the science plan to define the pathway for the effective integration of science into policy and management decisions.  “Better connections among policy makers, scientists and managers are needed along with new mechanisms, organizational structures and tools for regular and effective interactions to improve shared understanding and stewardship of the Delta,” states the draft science plan.

The vision of the Delta Science Plan is to foster an open community of scientists, termed ‘One Delta, One Science’, that will “work collaboratively to build a shared state of scientific knowledge with the capacity to adapt and inform future water and environmental decisions.”

Some of the provisions of the Delta Science Plan include:

  • Establishing a Science Synthesis Team that will integrate and synthesize relevant research and current knowledge to better inform ecosystem restoration and water management actions.
  • Convening a Policy Science Team that would serve as a forum for decision makers to explore issues directly with leaders of the scientific community, and for scientists to fully understand what science is needed to support decision-making.
  • Creating an Adaptive Management Unit to determine guidelines for adaptive management in ecosystem restoration and water management actions.
  • Constructing an infrastructure capable of supporting science that will build upon current efforts and includes setting research priorities, coordinating monitoring efforts, expanding data management and accessibility, providing independent scientific peer review and advice, facilitating the sharing of models, and stimulating communication between policy makers and scientists, as well as within the Delta science community itself.

The science plan also addresses funding issues, noting that resources for science are a prerequisite for adaptive management and informed decision making:  “The science and management communities together will need to dedicate considerable effort to communicate to funding decision makers … how relatively small, yet sustainable investments in science can generate disproportionately larger pay-backs in terms of operational efficiencies, less litigation, and better environmental and social outcomes.”

These investments are critical to the success of the science efforts in achieving the coequal goals:  “Without the essential tools and resources necessary to conduct the science, it is far from assured that the investments placed in achieving the outcomes envisioned in the Delta Plan and other major planning efforts to achieve the coequal goals will come to fruition.”

The science plan is just one element of the Delta Science Program’s overall science strategy that includes setting a prioritized scientific action agenda developed by the science community and the Science Synthesis Team, and the preparation of a synthesized summary of the current state of scientific knowledge.

The draft Delta Science Plan is now posted and available for public review.  Public comments are welcome during the entire development process of the science plan; however, comments must be received by July 18th to be incorporated into the second draft, scheduled to be released in August.  The final draft of the Delta Science Plan is expected in September.

To comment:  Written public comments should be submitted to Please organize written comments by chapter title, heading, appendix, page number, line number and box/figure number.  For more information on the Delta Science Program, click here.

The Delta Science Plan is one element of a three-part science strategy for the Delta.


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