Science Documents for Bay-Delta Restoration Released for Public Review, Comment

Efforts will Restore Delta Ecosystem, Create Water Supply Reliability for 25 Million Californians

SACRAMENTO – The California Natural Resources Agency today publicly released preliminary administrative drafts of all its Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) planning documents. BDCP is guided by the 2009 Delta Reform Act, which made it state policy to manage the Delta in support of the co-equal goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration in a manner that acknowledges the evolving nature of the Delta as a place for people and communities.

“This is an unprecedented release of thousands of pages of scientific research and data for public scrutiny whose release is going to prompt a lot of important questions,” said California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird. “What is absolutely clear is that the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is in severe decline. Right now, fish populations are crashing and in the future climate change will have an even more dramatic impact on the health of the Delta. BDCP must be flexible to adapt and manage to this reality over time.”

These administrative draft documents analyze the movement of 5.9 million acre feet of water a year on average and the creation of over 110,000 acres of fish and wildlife habitat. The movement of water number is derived from various proposed operating criteria for a conveyance designed to protect Delta fisheries. It represents one reasonable set of assumptions but is only a starting point for analysis.

“There is a great deal of scientific uncertainty about an estuary as ecologically complex as the Delta and the long-term effects of climate change on native fish species,” said the Director of the Department of Fish and Game Charlton H. Bonham. “With these materials, we can now engage in a scientifically rigorous and transparent discussion over how best to protect and restore fish, wildlife, and the Delta’s ecosystem while ensuring water supply reliability.”

BDCP is the most holistic, complex and science-based regulatory effort ever undertaken in the Delta, guided by a decade of intensive scientific fieldwork and analysis.

“These documents give us an important road map to meeting the dual goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability,” said acting Director of Water Resources Mark Cowin. “What is important now is robust, open engagement with all stakeholders so we can balance water supply and fisheries needs in a way that is consistent with the variety of important land uses and services in the Delta including flood protection, agriculture and recreation, to name a few.”

Continued Secretary for Natural Resources Laird: “The state has not made a decision and is not committed to the project outlined in these draft materials. But we believe the draft gives us (and the stakeholders) the information needed to define the basic elements of a proposed project in July, as previously announced by Governor Brown and Interior Secretary Salazar.”

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