Keywords:anadromous fish, biological opinion (BiOp), Central Valley Project (CVP), ecosystem management, endangered species, native fish, Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, upper watershed management
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.
This Issue Paper, authored by Jessica Davenport, the Council's Program Manager for Ecosystem Restoration and Land Use, is entitled Restoring Habitat with Science...
This Issue Paper, authored by Jessica Davenport, the Council's Program Manager for Ecosystem Restoration and Land Use, is entitled Restoring Habitat with Science and Society in Mind. The purpose of the 22-page paper is to survey restoration activities in the Delta; describe the needs, progress and opportunities related to restoration; and propose key areas of focus for the Delta Stewardship Council and other agencies to advance habitat restoration.
Some of the areas of focus for Council staff for the next two years include:
Continue to provide early consultation on habitat restoration projects that are Covered Actions under the Delta Plan in order to advise project proponents on using best available science and adaptive management and avoiding or reducing conflicts with existing uses, where feasible.
Report on habitat performance measures by December 2014 and again in December 2015.
Work with others to complete at least one of the landscape-scale conceptual models and associated landscape habitat metrics for the priority habitat restoration areas.
Enagage Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee members in discussions of challenges and potential solutions related to land acquistion and permit coordination.
Large-scale fish kills and habitat destruction aren’t an unusual occurrence at the giant federal and state pumps that export water from the Sacramento-San...
Large-scale fish kills and habitat destruction aren’t an unusual occurrence at the giant federal and state pumps that export water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to agribusinesses and cities in the southern half of the state. These events are business as usual.
• Every day, between 870 and 61,000 fish – including from 200 to 42,000 native and endangered fishes – are “salvaged” at the pumps. Most die in the process.
• On average, over 9 million fish – representing the twenty fish species considered in this report – are “salvaged” each year at the pumps. As many as 15 million fish of all species encountered are “salvaged” each year.
• Up to 40% of the total population of the endangered delta smelt and 15% of the endangered winter-run population of Chinook salmon are killed at the pumps in some years. In the first half of 2011, over 8.6 million splittail were salvaged.
• Salvage estimates drastically underestimate the problem. The numbers do not factor in the results of “indirect” mortality, as high levels of export pumping disrupt fish migration, shrink the amount of non-lethal habitat available to fish species, and remove vast amounts of biomass, including fish eggs and larvae too small to be screened at the pumps.
• Export pumping causes the lower San Joaquin River to flow backwards most of the year and removes the equivalent of 170 railroad boxcars of water – and the accompanying fish, other organisms, and nutrients – from the Delta ecosystem every minute.
• Large numbers of fish being entrained is a problem even for species that are not currently listed as “endangered.” Killing large numbers of fish year after year cuts off population growth in response to favorable conditions and can start the species on a downward path to extinction. As the species declines, the population impacts of entrainment become proportionately larger.
• Entrainment is a real problem. But the same interests in the Delta export community who claim that it isn’t also back constructing expensive new conveyance facilities such as a peripheral canal or tunnel to solve the problem that they say doesn’t exist.
The Little Hoover Commission in a letter sent Friday to Governor Brown and the Legislature again renewed its call for urgent action at...
The Little Hoover Commission in a letter sent Friday to Governor Brown and the Legislature again renewed its call for urgent action at the Salton Sea to prevent a massive public health, environmental and economic disaster in Southern California.
Policymakers must replicate the effective approach taken to meet the state’s rewewable energy goals, wrote the Commission in its letter. Then, the Govenor gave a senior official the authority to do what it took to get projects through red tape at all levels of government. The model was remarkably simple: Get everyone together and get it done.
The letter results from continuing oversight to which the Commission pledged in its 2015 report, Averting Disaster: Action Now for the Salton Sea. The Commission held an April 2016 hearing to get an update on the state’s progress in strategically managing the Salton Sea. It heard from the assistant secretary for Salton Sea policy at the Natural Resources Agency, as well as stakeholders from local government and the environmental community.
The Commission’s letter acknowledges that momentum is building and that the state has made important progress in managing the sea, particularly with $80 million in funding in the Governor’s proposed 2016-17 budget. However, the Commission’s letter maintains that the state is not moving fast enough or allocating sufficient resources to prevent a disaster. Timelines have been delayed, short-term goals scarcely cover a fraction of exposed lakebed and much more than $80 million is needed to manage the sea.