Keywords:anadromous fish, Central Valley Project (CVP), endangered species, fisheries, monitoring, native fish, Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, State Water Project (SWP), water project operations
The Environmental Data Summit, convened under the auspices of the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Science Program in June 2014, witnessed remarkable participation from...
The Environmental Data Summit, convened under the auspices of the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Science Program in June 2014, witnessed remarkable participation from experts across California, the nation, and even the world. Summit attendees from the public, private, federal, and non-profit sectors shared their views regarding the urgent needs and proposed solutions for California’s data-sharing and data-integration challenges, especially pertaining to the subject of environmental resource management in the era of “big data.”
After all, this is a time when our data sources are growing in number, size, and complexity. Yet our ability to manage and analyze such data in service of effective decision-making lags far behind our demonstrated needs.
In its review of the sustainability of water and environmental management in the California Bay-Delta, the National Research Council (NRC) found that “only a synthetic, integrated, analytical approach to understanding the effects of suites of environmental factors (stressors) on the ecosystem and its components is likely to provide important insights that can lead to enhancement of the Delta and its species” (National Research Council 2012).
The present “silos of data” have resulted in separate and compartmentalized science, impeding our ability to make informed decisions. While resolving data integration challenges will not, by itself, produce better science or better natural resource outcomes, progress in this area will provide a strong foundation for decision-making. Various mandates ranging from the California Water Action Plan to the President’s executive order demanding federal open data policies demonstrate the consensus on the merits of modern data sharing at the scale and function needed to meet today’s challenges.
This white paper emerges from the Summit as an instrument to help identify such opportunities to enhance California’s cross-jurisdictional data management. As a resource to policymakers, agency leadership, data managers, and others, this paper articulates some key challenges as well as proven solutions that, with careful and thoughtful coordination, can be implemented to overcome those obstacles. Primarily featured are tools that complement the State’s current investments in technology, recognizing that success depends upon broad and motivated participation from all levels of the public agency domain.
This document describes examples, practices, and recommendations that focus on California’s Delta as an opportune example likely to yield meaningful initial results in the face of pressing challenges. Once proven in the Delta, however, this paper’s recommended innovations would conceivably be applied statewide in subsequent phases.
Water is California’s most essential resource. It is limited in availability—in some years, extremely limited, forcing devastating delivery cut-backs to cities, farms and...
Adaptive management is the process of incorporating new scientific and programmatic information into the implementation of a project or plan to ensure that...
Adaptive management is the process of incorporating new scientific and programmatic information into the implementation of a project or plan to ensure that the goals of the activity are being reached efficiently. It promotes flexible decision-making to modify existing activities or create new activities if new circumstances arise (e.g., new scientific information) or if projects are not meeting their goals.
The complex and dynamic nature of ecosystems make their restoration and management amenable to an adaptive management approach, and the concept is being implemented at scales that include entire regions or river basins. Adaptive management has been used to guide several major ecosystem restoration efforts with involvement by the federal government, including those on the Colorado and Platte rivers. Some of these adaptive management efforts have been specifically authorized by Congress, whereas other efforts have been formulated by agencies.
Adaptive management has also been proposed as a guiding principle for several new and ongoing major restoration efforts, including those in the Chesapeake Bay and Lake Tahoe.
The concept of adaptive management is straightforward, but its implementation can be difficult. A preliminary review of federal adaptive management efforts related to ecosystem restoration projects suggests that governance structures, management protocol and other factors vary widely. Additionally, the scope and timing of efforts employing the term “adaptive management” seems to vary among these projects. Where adaptive management has been implemented, it has encountered challenges. While adaptive management theoretically uses the best available science and monitoring to guide a project or program towards its stated goals, in practice the process can be affected by a number of outside factors.
As the number of federal adaptive management efforts grows, Congress may revisit its role in shaping adaptive management programs in legislation. Some argue that Congress should do more to provide specific direction for major adaptive management initiatives in order to make adaptive management more consistent among these efforts. Others contend that Congress should allow federal agencies or restoration governing bodies to shape their own adaptive management programs, thus providing them with flexibility to match their program to their restoration needs.
In addressing adaptive management, Congress may face decisions regarding the implementation guidelines and authorizations it provides these efforts, funds to establish and carry out these programs, and oversight issues.
This report provides an introduction to the concept of adaptive management. It focuses on the application of this concept to large, freshwater aquatic ecosystem restoration projects with multiple stakeholders. A summary of the benefits and drawbacks of adaptive management for these projects is provided, along with analysis of potential issues associated with various governance models for these efforts. The potential role for Congress in addressing adaptive management is also discussed. As an appendix, the report summarizes the structure and implementation of federal adaptive management efforts to date five ecosystems: Glen Canyon/Colorado River, Platte River, Lower Colorado River, Missouri River, and Florida Everglades.
Resolution of the Delta’s water supply, water quality, and fish problems may involve building various structures, possibly including gates, pumps, canals, levees, and...
Resolution of the Delta’s water supply, water quality, and fish problems may involve building various structures, possibly including gates, pumps, canals, levees, and dams, and undertaking landscaping rearrangements to improve habitat for several species of flora and fauna. Resolution also involves changing water flow regimes in ways that would make more or less water, but probably less, available for human uses. This work and these changes will cost serious money. Cost estimates for many of these actions have not yet been developed.
This paper explores approaches to financing these “improvements” and “mitigations.” While a little abstract, this is abstraction that matters. It will determine from whose pockets a good deal of money will come.
California has a long history of financing water projects. The first section of this paper reviews this history, in hopes of identifying water-financing principles that might be adapted to Delta improvements and mitigation. Some deep-seated controversies about how Delta improvements should be financed have roots in this history, and it may be helpful to point them out.
A core idea in California’s approach to financing water projects is that beneficiaries should pay for them. Decades ago, this was a straightforward proposition – people or water districts should pay for the necessary dams, canals, and pumps and the costs of operating them in proportion to the amount of water they received. In the current age of rising environmental sensitivity, it is a little muddier. An alternative formulation that applies, at least crudely, to housing developments and highway projects, is that project proponents should pay to mitigate at least some of the environmental harm that their project is likely to cause. The second section of this paper explores this controversial subject. It seems unlikely that any consensus can be reached about how to finance facilities in the Delta without reaching some agreement about how to deal with this matter.
This paper was first issued in July, 2008. This version contains a few clarifications made in response to the Blue Ribbon Task Force’s reviewers. The author is grateful for their suggestions.