Executive Officer Jessica Pearson: $2.1 million goes towards the Delta Science Program’s efforts, and $1.45 million is for high priority updates to the Delta Plan
From the Delta Stewardship Council:
The Governor’s proposed 2016-17 budget includes an additional $3.55 million for the Delta Stewardship Council. None of this funding would go to complete the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) / WaterFix or to incorporate WaterFix into the Delta Plan if it advances.
The proposed funding is for two purposes:
• Delta Science Program – $2.1 million (General Fund) annually to bolster the Delta Science Program’s mission of providing the best available science by increasing support for monitoring and science investigations, and the Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee’s (DPIIC) High-Impact Science Actions, which were endorsed in 2015 by the 17 member panel comprised of state and federal agencies.
• High-Priority Delta Plan Updates – $1.45 million (General Fund) for the next two years to update the Delta Plan, regulations, and recommendations relative to flood management, ecosystem restoration, water supply, and the significant shift in policy from the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to WaterFix and EcoRestore.
Both activities support the achievement of the state’s coequal goals, are consistent with the Delta Reform Act of 2009, and are anticipated in the 2013 Delta Plan.
The Delta Stewardship Council, governed by a seven-member board, was established as an independent state agency in 2009 and directed to develop a legally-enforceable, comprehensive long-term management plan for the Delta – the Delta Plan. The Council was also given review authority over significant projects proposed in the Delta. Those projects (“covered actions”) must be consistent with the regulatory provisions of the Delta Plan. However, the Delta Reform Act required that, if the BDCP were approved as a Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) and complied with other statutory requirements, it would automatically be incorporated into the Delta Plan (i.e., by statute, the BDCP would not be a covered action, but would become part of the Delta Plan itself).
While supportive of the Delta Reform Act’s requirements with regard to BDCP, the 2013 Delta Plan stated the following:
• However, should the BDCP process not be completed by January 1, 2016, the Council intends to revisit the issue of conveyance to determine how to facilitate improved conveyance facilities without the BDCP. If the Council then decides to amend the Delta Plan to include regulatory policies regarding conveyance, the Council would do so only after extensive analysis of the conveyance options and associated detailed environmental review. (Delta Plan, Appendix A, p. A-2.)
In April 2015, the Brown Administration announced a new preferred alternative to the BDCP – one that would not complete the BDCP as an NCCP, but would instead advance a new conveyance initiative called WaterFix. A parallel effort, EcoRestore, proposes to accelerate specific restoration actions in the Delta. With this change, there will be no automatic incorporation of BDCP into the Delta Plan, and if WaterFix advances, it will be a “covered action” that must be consistent with the regulatory provisions of the Delta Plan.
In October 2015 the Council adopted water supply principles in the first of a multi-step effort to update the Delta Plan due to the absence of BDCP as originally contemplated (i.e., an NCCP). The Council’s budget proposal therefore requests funding not to “incorporate” WaterFix into the Delta Plan, but instead continue its efforts to develop water supply and ecosystem updates to the Delta Plan in compliance with the Council’s stated intentions in the 2013 Delta Plan.
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