Last week, the Delta Stewardship Council (the Council) released its first draft Delta Plan. There are some good things and some questionable things in this first draft.
Most notable, and one of overwhelming concern, is how the Council is putting off financing plan. This vital piece would identify the cost of the projects and management strategies identified in the Delta Plan; and who can, and is willing to pay, for the development of those priorities. Without the essential financing piece, the Council risks repeating the fatal errors of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and the preceding CALFED process.
In both of these failed Delta planning efforts, the stakeholders developed their own wish lists. Consensus was based on two concepts: enough money will be provided to make each stakeholder’s individual priorities better than whole, and it would be financed through OPM (Other Peoples’ Money). Both plans resulted in expectations that eventually were deemed unrealistic and that is when the consensus to move forward imploded.
When costs, benefits, and beneficiaries are identified up front much more realistic proposals will emerge. It is likely the Council will incorporate phasing of water reliability and restoration projects over time.
It is in the Delta Stewardship Council’s best interest to tackle the financing piece sooner rather than concede to the same fate of its processors later.