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Our Vision for the Delta
OUR VISION FOR THE DELTA
Legally acknowledge the co-equal status of restoring the Delta ecosystem and creating a more reliable water supply for California. Establishing these two co-equal goals as the legal foundation for Delta-related policy making provides direction to policy makers and information to citizens about the critical role of the Delta in California's future. Working toward achieving the co-equal goals will require balance, hard choices and substantial investments. This should become easier over time as the full recommendations of the Task Force regarding water management and conservation, ecosystem improvements and risk reductions are implemented.
Recognize and enhance the unique cultural, recreational, and agricultural values of the Delta - an action critical to achieving our co-equal goal. Apply for designation of the Delta as a federal Natural Heritage Area, and designate the Delta as a State Recreation Area. Establish and fund a Delta Investment Fund to promote appropriate recreation, tourism and other uses, but adopt land use rules that make sure urban development does not occur in flood-threatened lands, or in a way to conflict with the goal of Delta ecosystem restoration or of a more reliable water delivery system.
Restore the Delta ecosystem as the heart of a healthy estuary. Put approximately 100,000 acres of lands in the Delta into protected status by the year 2100, in order to achieve the goals of Delta Vision. It is time to place the ecosystem at the center of the discussion, along with water for human uses.
Promote water conservation, efficiency and sustainable use. Whatever else is done, there is no dispute that conservation must be undertaken by every user of water in California. If voluntary efforts are not successful, then mandatory measures are needed, and they must be coupled with increased use of water recycling and other regionally sustainable sources.
Build facilities to improve the existing water conveyance system and expand statewide storage and operate both to achieve the co-equal goal. Yes, over the next decade or two, the state must have new water storage, above and below ground, and must also build new Delta water conveyance facilities. The Task Force prefers the 'dual conveyance' approach, where water is transported both through and around the Delta.
Reduce risks to people, property and state interests in the Delta by effective emergency preparedness, appropriate land uses and strategic investments. People and property located in much of the Delta are exposed to great risks from flooding, sea level rise and earthquakes. Increased protection must be provided, but new growth should be discouraged in areas subject to extraordinary risk.
Establish a new governance structure with the authority, responsibility, accountability, science support and secure funding to achieve these goals. The Task Force recommends a five-person statewide commission appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. The commission would oversee actions of various state and federal agencies in the Delta by requiring consistency with a California Delta Plan, which the commission would develop and adopt.
About the Delta Vision Strategic Plan
The Delta Vision Strategic Plan is designed to be a comprehensive, integrated solution that will address the natural, economic, cultural and historic resources in the Delta. Read on for further detail about its provisions.
DELTA AS PLACE
- Increase recognition of the Delta as a place and enhance tourism and recreation by creating a federally recognized National Heritage Area and a state-recognized multi-unit State Recreation Area.
- Create market structures or incentives for Delta agriculture to produce public benefits in addition to food and fiber, such as wildlife habitat, subsidence reversal, flood management and recreation and tourism opportunities.
- Facilitate new investments in "gateway" locations near major Delta cities and highways through establishment of enterprise zones, through tax breaks and/or low-interest loans.
- Achieve levels of emergency protection consistent with state and federal policies.
- Adopt an overarching policy for Delta levee design, investment, financing, priorities and maintenance.
- Ensure appropriate land uses in the Delta by discouraging inappropriate urbanization and promoting open space buffers to accommodate sea level rise.
DELTA AS ECOSYSTEM
- Establish primary desired ecosystem characteristics and functions as the basis for managing the Delta and achieving stated outcomes.
- Restore extensive interconnected habitats, including floodplain inundation and new floodplains, intertidal marshes and tidal open waters.
- Restore Delta flows and channels to reflect a more natural climate pattern and characteristics of estuarine conditions.
- Reduce or eliminate stressors to below levels of adverse effects, including harmful invasive species, man-made contaminants and entrainment.
- Establish multi-purpose migratory corridors along Delta rivers in coordination with upstream restoration efforts.
WATER SUPPLY AND QUALITY
- Significantly improve water use efficiency for all users, including residential, manufacturing, business and agriculture.
- Increase diversity of local and regional water supply portfolios to optimize regional self-sufficiency throughout California.
- Integrate Central Valley water storage operations, flood management, regional self sufficiency efforts, conjunctive use opportunities and ecosystem benefits.
- Implement mechanisms and build facilities to improve reliability and predictability of water diverted from the Delta watershed while balancing the desire to achieve a more resilient Delta ecosystem.
- Improve water quality for drinking, agriculture and the ecosystem.
GOVERNANCE AND FINANCE
- Through statute, create a governance structure to ensure attainment of primary Delta Vision goals, headed by the California Delta and Ecosystem Water Council.
- Through statute, also create a Delta Conservancy, a California Water Utility, a Delta Science and Engineering Program and a Public Advisory Group.
- Charge the Council with developing and ensuring consistency with a legally binding California Delta Ecosystem and Water Plan as the primary mechanism to ensure consistency among local, state and federal actions.
- Through statute, strengthen the existing Delta Protection Commission.
- Finance Plan activities through user fees and other effective and transparent financing tools.
- Improve compliance of diversions and water use with all applicable laws, regulations and constitutional principles.