Covered Actions regulatory process now underway
With the Delta Plan’s regulations becoming effective the first of September, the Delta Stewardship Council is ‘open for business’ in terms of the regulatory process for covered actions. Council staff have been holding training workshops with agencies and organizations, and have already conducted one early consultation. “We are here, the doors are open, so please come and talk to us about potential covered actions or your questions about the process,” said Delta Plan Manager Cindy Messer.
There is an online system for local and state agencies to file their certifications of consistency; the system will provide real-time notification when a certification has been filed or any other change is status that occurs in the system.
Ms. Messer than reviewed the various screens that comprise the online system, noting that the first round of training sessions have been completed, and more sessions are in the process of being scheduled. “The online system walks local and state agencies folks through the process to determine whether they have a covered action or not, it walks them through the exemptions, it walks them through the screening criteria for covered actions, yes/no, tells them when they need to move forward, walks them through all of the Delta Plan policies and in the end, offers them some additional guidelines and tips regarding the covered actions process,” said Ms. Messer, noting that the information is not collected in the database but is purely for local and state agency folks to use. “The system allows them to save this into their own computer files so in the future, if they decide they don’t have a covered action but they may be challenged, it gives them one more document in their file to go back to and review as to why they made that determination.”
There’s a combination of experts and advisors from the Council’s science and planning staff that are on hand at the Council to help with consistency reviews, said Ms. Messer. “Depending on the subject of the activity, when that comes in, we take a look at who we need to pull from our staff and we create teams for the early consultation and any review that needs to happen.”
“Right now we do not have any consistency certifications filed,” added Ms. Messer.
Any appeal of a consistency determination of a covered action would be scheduled during regularly scheduled Council meetings, said Ms. Messer. She noted that the appeals process for covered actions is detailed in Appendix D of the Delta Plan, which was adopted by the Council in December of 2010. The Appendix provides a lot of information on the process, including a checklist of requirements, relevant timelines for the appeals process, and the information and requirements for an appeal. The Appendix also discusses the Council’s ability to require additional information, as well as who may file an appeal.
- For the staff report for this item, click here.
- For the flowchart for the consistency certification process, click here. For a similar flowchart of the appeals process, click here.
- More details on the online system can be found by clicking here.
- Click here for Appendix D of the Delta Plan, which covers the appeals process in detail.
Delta Plan Implementation Committee Update
Taryn Ravazzini, Coordinator of the DPIC, updated the Council on the Delta Plan Implementation Committee.
“The Delta Plan in unique because most of the implementation falls on the shoulders of other agencies with their own specific mandates,” said Taryn Ravazzini. She and Councilmember Randy Fiorini have been meeting with representatives from the participating agencies to get their view on how the implementation committee can be most helpful, and how efforts can be focused and targeted to make progress in Delta Plan implementation and furthering the coequal goals. She noted that they are relying on active participation of the various agencies, and staff has been working on roles, responsibilities and the design of the committee.
The Committee is still in the process of being developed, and with only two lines in the Delta Reform Act that address the Delta Plan Implementation Committee, there isn’t much to go on, she noted. “I believe this is a great opportunity for us,” she said. “We have some room in which to be creative about our approach, about the design of this Committee, about the tasks we even set before it and with that there is a chance for us to write a new chapter in what collaborative and cooperative efforts are.”
“There are a couple of points that bring all these implementing agencies together,” said Ms. Ravazzini. “I think it is the sense of urgency in the Delta; it’s the reason why the Delta Stewardship Council is here today, and it’s why the Delta Reform Act was passed in 2009. We have definitely an opportunity to present a new and necessary forum for cooperation.”
Other meeting notes:
- Council staff has been working to schedule a meeting with NOAA’s Office of Coastal Resource Management to discuss the Coastal Zone Management Plan as the Delta Reform Act directs the Delta Plan is to be included in the Coastal Zone Management Plan.
- Council staff recently commented on the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation which involves the raising of Shasta Dam and enlargement of the reservoir. The September 30 comment letter noted “additional instream storage could benefit both water supply and flood control, but also note concerns from state and federal wildlife agencies that the environmental analysis is both incomplete and perhaps overstates some environmental benefits for the project.”
- Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted a basin plan amendment to establish a drinking water policy to protect and secure water quality on July 26. Staff notes that this is in compliance with Delta Plan recommendation WQ R4, which is to establish a water quality plan. The Central Valley Regional Water Board’s plan amendment includes narrative water quality objectives for two pathogens and language that addresses other contaminants of concern in drinking water.
- State Water Resources Board has approved water rights changes allowing extra flows to be sent down the San Joaquin River. This is another step in the $900 million San Joaquin River Restoration. Also, Department of Fish and Wildlife recently unveiled plans to build a fish hatchery for spring-run Chinook at the base of Friant Dam.
For more information:
- To view the meeting agenda and webcast, click here.