Bits and pieces

Here are some nuggest from today’s National Academy of Sciences final report on the Delta (link to free download here). I thought they were interesting; maybe you will, too.

• “The current organizational structure (or absence of structure), which lacks clear, unambiguous assignments of authorities and responsibilities, makes it difficult to develop and implement a balanced, sustainable plan. The Delta Plan and other efforts under way attempt to satisfy independent legislative enactments, but not the fundamental principles of water management… There is no discussion of benefit/cost, efficiency, or priorities for action, all of which are essential parts of effective resource planning.” (page 5)

• Regarding the state’s co-equal goals of water supply and ecosystem restoration: “It is not clear what co-equal means. Does it mean that any additional water will be allocated half and half to support each goal? Or does co-equal imply some proportional allocation? Or does it mean that water for support of one goal should not be available at the expense of water to support attainment of the other?” (page 35)

• “… An effective system of planning and management will need to consider a broader array of alternatives and options for managing water than has been characteristic of the past. Perhaps most importantly, all Delta and export water users will need to more generally acknowledge that water scarcity is a fact of life.” (Page 36)

• While the panel did not weigh in directly on a peripheral canal, it did mention one concern as an example of solutions that might create more problems than they solve: “Infrastructure changes in the Delta such as construction of an isolated facility could result in the export of more Sacramento River water to the south, which would allow more selenium-rich San Joaquin River water to enter the Bay. The solutions to selenium contamination must be found within the Central Valley and the risks from selenium to the Bay are an important consideration in any infrastructure changes that affect how San Joaquin River water gets to the Bay.” (Page 76)

• “The Delta as it was before large-scale alteration by humans (before about 1880) cannot be recovered. We probably cannot even know with precision and detail what the pre-alteration Delta looked like.” (Page 152)

• “With respect to the Delta ecosystem, building habitat or restoring flows does not mean ‘they will come.'” (Page 154)

• “Continuing the status quo of improving levees will not always be the most environmentally sustainable or economically defensible response in the years ahead. Indeed, changes in the levee system, and even removal or modification of some levees could be good for at least parts of the ecosystem.” (Page 156)

• “Stakeholder advocacy preferences are currently driving Delta and related water programs in California… One way of looking at the current situation is that existing laws and regulations are implemented only to the extent that they satisfy significant interests. Nor does such a process inspire trust.” (Page 171)


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