What The BDCP Is –And Isn’t
By Nancy Vogel
California Department of Water Resources
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is so big — the draft environmental reports top 18,000 pages — and so comprehensive in the way it seeks the long-term recovery of dozens of protected species that it’s easy to forget that the BDCP is just one element in a broader plan.
The BDCP is a plan to comply with federal and state endangered species laws. The contents of the draft plan are dictated by the requirements of those species-protection laws.
The BDCP can go a long way toward accomplishing the dual goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability spelled out by the Legislature in the 2009 Delta Reform Act.
But the BDCP by itself cannot do everything the Legislature seeks to accomplish through that keystone law, including “promote statewide water conservation, water use efficiency, and sustainable water use” and “reduce risks to people, property, and state interests in the Delta by effective emergency preparedness, appropriate land uses, and investments in flood protection.”
Such actions are outside the legal scope of the BDCP but they are critical to its success. The regions that depend upon water exported from the Delta must reduce their future reliance on those supplies, and the state must continue to work with local reclamation districts to protect Delta islands.
To ensure implementation of a broader Delta management plan, the Legislature created a new body, the Delta Stewardship Council.
The Council must create a legally enforceable plan to achieve all these objectives, and it is well on its way to doing so. It has crafted a draft overarching Delta plan that includes policies and regulations to guide state and local agency actions on water use and the Delta environment.
The BDCP, once permitted by federal and state wildlife agencies, will be included as an important element in the Delta Plan –– but it is only that, an element.
Look to the Delta Plan, not the BDCP, for the blueprint on how California will improve its statewide water supply reliability and safeguard people and property in the Delta.
Nancy Vogel is Assistant Director of Public Affairs for the California Department of Water Resources. She is a former newspaper reporter. This is reprinted from a DWR-BDCP blog.