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Delta Stewardship Council to Release Final Report

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The Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) will be conducting a hearing on January 11, 2013, in Sacramento to accept public comments regarding the final draft of the new Delta Plan. In 2009, the California Legislature passed the Delta Reform Act (Act) to address the decline of the Delta system and disputes regarding water supply and environmental degradation. The DSC, a multi-stakeholder group, was tasked with leading that effort and developing a legally enforceable plan.

The Act established coequal goals of a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem as overarching State policy. Furthermore, the Act notably required that Californians reduce their reliance on the Delta. Subsequently, Congress passed legislation requiring federal agencies to abide by the coequal goals as well, thus setting a new course for water management in the state.

The Act mandates many strategies that the Delta Plan must address to improve water supply reliability for California:

  • Promote, implement, and invest in water efficiency and conservation 
  • Implement and invest in wastewater reclamation and water recycling 
  • Increase and invest in desalination and advanced water treatment technologies 
  • Promote and implement options for improved water conveyance 
  • Expand and invest in storage
  • Improve water quality to protect human health and the environment 
  • Invest in local and regional water supply projects and coordination 
  • Prohibit waste and unreasonable use, consistent with Article X, Section 2 of the California Constitution, and protect public trust resources consistent with the Public Trust Doctrine

A key implementation issue for agriculture and food processors will be how much emphasis will be put on expanding water storage versus water use efficiency, reclamation, and other initiatives. Many environmental groups will likely be opposed to the expansion of storage and will instead want more emphasis on mandatory water conservation and recycling measures. The development of this Plan has been a long and contentious process, with numerous hearings and thousands of comments submitted by the public. The issues are not new, the debate will likely continue into the future, and funding for the ambitious agenda is uncertain.

Article contributed by Rob Neenan, President/CEO


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