Delta restoration plan released for review

05/15/2012 12:00 AM

05/15/2012 10:33 AM

The final draft of a plan to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was released for public review Monday.

The so-called Delta Plan was prepared by the Delta Stewardship Council. The council was created by a 2009 state law to resolve conflicts between water demand and ecosystem decline in the estuary, the largest on the West Coast of the Americas.

The plan contains 14 policies and 68 recommendations. Only the policies would carry the force of law. They aim, among other things, to improve flood protection, restore fishery habitat and reduce demand on the Delta as a water source for 25 million Californians.

"Fundamentally, the conveyance system we have now for exporting water from the Delta changes the ecosystem dramatically in ways that are harmful," said Joe Grindstaff, the council's executive officer.

The plan reinforces existing law requiring urban water agencies to cut water use 20 percent by 2020. Farm water agencies must adopt "best management practices" to conserve water but without numerical targets.

Failure to comply, Grindstaff said, could block these agencies from diverting Delta water.

Critics say this kind of language doesn't go far enough.

"They say they don't want to kick the can down the road, but that's exactly what they're doing," said Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

The council will discuss the draft when it meets May 24 at the Ramada Inn in West Sacramento at 1250 Halyard Drive. Adoption is expected this fall. To download a copy of the plan, visit: ht.ly/aUfnX.

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