THIS JUST IN … Delta Stewardship Council staff issues draft determination: substantial evidence does not exist in the record to support DWR’s finding that California WaterFix is consistent with the Delta Plan

Public workshop scheduled for November 15 and 16

From the Delta Stewardship Council:

The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) will conduct a public workshop on November 15-16, 2018 at the Ramada Inn (1250 Halyard Drive, West Sacramento, CA 95691) to review and discuss a staff draft Determination related to appeals received on the California WaterFix project Certification of Consistency with the Delta Plan submitted by the California Department of Water Resources (Department). Staff is presenting this version of the Determination to the Council, interested parties, and the public to discuss recommended edits and revisions prior to releasing a proposed Determination for Council consideration and action at a hearing during the December 20-21, 2018 Council meeting. There will be no Council action at the November public workshop.

In light of claims raised by nine appellant groups, Council staff recommends that the Council conclude that substantial evidence does not exist in the record to support the Department’s findings that California WaterFix is consistent with the Delta Plan. Staff further recommends that the Council remand the matter to the Department for reconsideration, pursuant to Water Code section 85225.25.

Access the Staff Report here.

Access the Staff Draft Determination Regarding Appeals of Certification of Consistency for California WaterFix here.

More information on the public workshop is available here.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The 2009 Delta Reform Act created the Delta Stewardship Council and charged the Council with preparing a long-term management plan for achieving the coequal goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The Act also specifies that the coequal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place.

The first Delta Plan was adopted by the Council in 2013.  Since then, the Plan has been updated to refine performance measures, exclude single-year transfers as a covered action, address levee maintenance through the Delta Levee Investment Strategy, and most notably to this hearing, address improving conveyance, storage, and operations (CSO) in the Delta.  The CSO amendment was based on 19 principles and said, among other things, that new conveyance in the Delta should be “a combination of new isolated conveyance and improved through-Delta conveyance facilities (dual conveyance) with access to multiple points of diversion, including one or more screened diversions.”

Per the Delta Reform Act, any agency undertaking a project or action that qualifies as a covered action as defined in the legislation must certify that the project or action is consistent with the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan.   In July of 2018, the Department of Water Resources submitted their consistency determination for the California Water Fix project, certifying that it was consistent with the Delta Plan.

Any person who feels that a proposed action is inconsistent with the Delta Plan and that it will have a significant adverse impact on the achievement of one or both of the coequal goals may file an appeal with the Council.  Nine appeals from 26 parties were filed; the objections include that the determination is premature because the supplemental EIR is not final, the Delta Plan is under litigation and therefore invalid, the project is inconsistent with coequal goals and Delta Plan policies such as reduced reliance and flow criteria, and that implementing the project does not protect and enhance the Delta as an evolving place.

A three day appeal hearing was held in late October.  The appeal process is focused on whether there is substantial evidence that supports certification.  The Council’s staff draft determination states that substantial evidence does not exist in the record to support DWR’s finding that California WaterFix is consistent with the Delta Plan and recommends remanding the matter back to the Department of Water Resources for consideration.  The Department could then submit revised certification.

In order for project to move forward, all appeals must be resolved.

 

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