Last Friday, with release of the third iteration of its draft Delta Plan, the Delta Stewardship Council started to fill in some of the widely anticipated specifics. The third draft component to the Delta starts to tackle some of the toughest issues including Delta flow standards and the financing of the Delta Plan.
The Planning and Conservation League was pleased to see that the latest version gave great weight to one of our key “Affordable Water Solutions for California,” new flow standards for the Delta and key upstream tributaries. Specifically, draft Delta Plan sets a policy by stating, “By June 2, 2014, (the State Water Resources Control Board), adopt and implement the flow objectives for the Delta that are necessary to achieve the co-equal objectives” and “By June 2, 2014, (the State Water Resources Control Board), develop flow criteria and establish flows for high priority tributaries in the Delta watershed that are necessary to achieve the coequal objectives.”
In addition to the direction to developing new Delta flow standards, the third draft also begins to fill in details on recommended financing. It includes the last cost estimate for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan at $21.5 billion; and in regards to our state’s economic challenges, it acknowledges, “… the State’s fiscal condition will limit their (general fund) availability in the future.” It goes on to find that “… it is highly likely that user fees, revenue bonds and sources other than state general funds of state general obligation bonds will be the primary source of funding.”
Their schedule calls for a fourth draft Plan to be issued next month followed the next month (June) by Draft Delta Plan and EIR.