Economic Sustainability Plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
Delta Protection Commission (DPC) | July 19th, 2012
The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is a unique place of economic, environmental, historic, and cultural significance. The land and water resources of the Delta support significant agricultural and recreation economies, and the Delta also has an important role as an infrastructure hub for water, energy, and transportation. The region’s rich history boasts of bustling, river-based commerce before the automobile age, and its cultural uniqueness includes the only rural town in America build by early Chinese immigrants. As the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas, the Delta also is a place of striking natural beauty and ecological significance that is struggling with serious environmental degradation problems. Although surrounded by growing cities, the Delta remains a highly-productive agricultural area with rural charms, landscapes, and waterscapes not found elsewhere in California.
In recent years, there has been great concern over increasing environmental degradation in the Delta and over court decisions that reduced the quantity of water delivered to southern California through the state and federal water project intakes in the south Delta to protect endangered fish. Combined with additional concerns about the stability of the Delta’s levee system, these concerns led the California legislature to pass the Delta Reform Act of 2009. The Act created the Delta Stewardship Council and charged it with developing a Delta Plan to achieve the coequal goals of “providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem.”
Recognizing the potential impact of the Delta Plan on the people and economy of the Delta, the Delta Reform Act stated that the coequal goals of water supply reliability and restoring the Delta ecosystem “shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place.”
Among the measures to address this goal, the Delta Protection Commission was tasked with developing this Economic Sustainability Plan to inform the Delta Stewardship Council’s development of the Delta Plan. The Legislature established the following guidelines for the Economic Sustainability Plan in the Delta Reform Act of 2009:
“The economic sustainability plan shall include information and recommendations that inform the Delta Stewardship Council’s policies regarding the socioeconomic sustainability of the Delta region. (b) The economic sustainability plan shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following:
1) Public safety recommendations, such as flood protection recommendations.
2) The economic goals, policies, and objectives in local general plans and other local economic efforts, including recommendations on continued socioeconomic sustainability of agriculture and its infrastructure and legacy communities in the Delta.
3) Comments and recommendations to the Department of Water Resources concerning its periodic update of the flood management plan for the Delta.
4) Identification of ways to encourage recreational investment along the key river corridors, as appropriate.
Since a key purpose of this Economic Sustainability Plan is to inform the Delta Plan under development by the Delta Stewardship Council, this report analyzes the impact of key policies being considered for the plan on the economic sustainability of the Delta. Many of the most significant proposals for the Delta are being developed in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).
The policy proposals can be grouped into four categories: 1) water conveyance, 2) habitat creation, 3) levees, and 4) land use regulation. The report also considers many aspects of economic sustainability in the Delta that are unrelated to these water policy proposals including economic development recommendations in the 2008 Delta Vision Strategic Plan.