The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Steering Committee has received a document describing results of four years of work to develop a comprehensive habitat conservation plan to protect and recover endangered species and provide for a reliable water supply from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. While The Bay Institute believes that the BDCP has made substantial progress, the document received does not accurately reflect that progress as many sections describe plan elements that are not agreed to by Steering Committee members.
The Bay Institute, which as a member of the Steering Committee advocated for transparent development of a plan based on science, expressed disappointment with the progress to date and the content of the document.
Said The Bay Institute's Executive Director and Chief Scientist, Dr. Christina Swanson, 'Every chapter of this so-called 'draft plan' is prefaced by lengthy caveats and disclaimers, but even those can't gloss over the very serious, systemic flaws with the document and its development to date. Development of a plan that will withstand scientific and regulatory review will require significant additional work.'
At a 16th November oversight hearing of the California Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife, The Bay Institute's Conservation Biologist Dr. Jonathan Rosenfield identified the key elements of an acceptable BDCP. 'The plan needs to be based on measurable objectives for recovery of imperiled species, realistic water supply objectives that reduce dependence on the Delta, scientifically credible conservation measures, and water management operations that provide better - not worse - protection for fish.' The plan, which is intended to be the basis for a 50-year water export permit, also needs to incorporate an independent, science-based adaptive management program and have explicit linkages between achieving the plan's conservation objectives and any water supply assurances. Said Rosenfield, 'Although a substantial amount of useful scientific and policy work to develop the BDCP has been accomplished during the past four years, the current version of the plan is not yet adequately developed in any of these areas.'
Despite problems with the planning process during the past four years and in this November document, there is strong consensus that the effort must continue. Swanson and Rosenfield agreed, 'All of us working on the BDCP agree that current management of the Delta ecosystem, its fisheries and its water resources is unsustainable. The Bay Institute remains committed to continuing this essential work to develop a comprehensive plan that protects, restores and sustains the Delta ecosystem while providing a reliable water supply for cities and farms. We look forward to working with all stakeholders, the Obama Administration and the incoming Brown Administration to bring this effort to a successful result.'