The NAS review of BDCP and where to go from here.

You guys will be as shocked as I am when I tell you that people email me asking for constructive suggestions for what to do. I don’t see where I’ve ever given the impression that I have constructive things to say. Sniping from the internet is easy and fun, and it were easy and fun to come up with productive things to do from here, bright people would have already done it. Nevertheless, I’ll try.

There’s the question of whether and how the Delta Stewardship Council adopts the BDCP. They were supposed to, real quick-like, and that was the sneaky way that the Schwarzenegger administration was going to sneak the Peripheral Canal into being. Doesn’t seem like that’s much of a threat now. For one, BDCP is a national laughingstock, so that’s a problem. More importantly, there is a long list of legal requirements that BDCP has to meet. The NAS review is clear that it doesn’t yet, so the DSC doesn’t face this question quite yet.

Seems like the direction of BDCP is up in the air right now, with Resources Secretary Laird saying they are working on a big revision that will be much better and and Interior’s Deputy Director Hayes swearing up and down that they love science soooo much and would never write a plan without it. If the DSC has specific conditions for their adopting the BDCPlan, now would be a good time to weigh in.

Mostly, though, my advice for the Delta Stewardship Council is to make the policy decisions the collaborative process of BDCP can’t. I know the DSC says they are guided by the co-equal goals, but I also know that their process lives because of the ambiguity in those goals. I asked before. Does the goal of reliable water supply mean “making sure everyone gets all the water they want reliably” or “living within the reliable portion of California’s variable water supply”? Does “restored ecosystem” mean a farmed ecosystem? A salt marsh? Collapsed bay? Combination? Where and how much, precisely? BDCP tries to hover in ambiguity and while that keeps everyone involved, it also makes everyone mad and creates a bad plan. Sooner or later, the DSC is going to have to declare themselves. The sooner they do it, the better their plan will be, says me and the National Academy of Science.

The other thing I would point out to anyone running these big processes is that there is no conflict-free path. BDCP avoided the conflict of declaring what their plan does, and ended up torn to pieces by the National Academy of Science panel. Maybe the DSC wants to avoid the types of decisions that make ACWA send firm letters with lots of signatures. But if resolving the conflict calls for those decisions and they duck them, the strongly worded letters and yucky articles in the press will find them anyway. They will get abused no matter what, so they might as well make the decisions they think are needed. It’ll feel better.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The NAS review of BDCP and where to go from here.

  1. Barring a miracle the BDCP isn’t going to amount to much.
    I still have hope for the DSC. As long as all impacted parties are equally annoyed, there is still hope for an equitable solution. I think you’re right about one thing. The DSC needs to put on their big boy pants and get on with the heavy lifting.

  2. Robert Pyke

    Yo’all might want to tune in to the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee hearing on Tuesday May 10 at 9.30 am. Jerry Meral and Phil Isenberg on a double bill!