Announce Actions in Response to Public Comments on Draft BDCP Agreement
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today reaffirmed their strong mutual resolve to moving forward with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and reinforced their joint commitment to effective action to achieve the dual goals of a healthy San Francisco Bay Delta ecosystem and a reliable water supply for California.
As part of today's statement, Governor Brown and Secretary Salazar announced several actions that will ensure a fair, open and transparent process and a full opportunity for input by all interested parties in the development of a plan to address the future of California's San Francisco Bay Delta – most significantly, revisions to the draft BDCP Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that are responsive to the comments received by a wide range of water stakeholders in recent weeks.
“It is clear that our Delta ecosystem needs repair and restoration. We shouldn't wait for a natural disaster to force our hand,” said Governor Brown. “This agreement takes us in the right direction to protect California's water supply.”
“Successfully developing a science-based Bay Delta Conservation Plan holds the promise of breaking from the unsustainable status quo and being a game-changer for California,” said Secretary Salazar. “That is why the Obama administration is joining with Governor Brown and recommitting funding and technical assistance to support what could become the largest restoration project in history.”
Today's actions come in response to public comments on the draft MOA. They reconfirm that all members of the public who have a stake in the future of the San Francisco Bay Delta will have an opportunity to participate in development of the BDCP, that the agencies' commitment to an aggressive BDCP schedule will not trump their commitment to scientific integrity, and that the process will be transparent, with all draft documents available to all members of the public.
In response to concerns raised about a prior draft of the MOA, Secretary Salazar said: “I have personally reviewed the concerns raised about the previous draft of the MOA, and we have heard the public loud and clear. Today we are responding to these concerns by proposing changes that underscore our commitment that no special advantages have been or will be granted to any party in developing this plan for the future of the Bay Delta. I am proud to endorse this process, and I know that it will continue to benefit from the great work of my Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Mike Connor, as well as the rest of our team working with the state and interested stakeholders on the front lines of this challenging effort.”
The comments received during the public comment period, which ended on Nov. 16, identified several opportunities to improve the MOA – chief among them a renewed agreement of all stakeholders to the dual goals of the BDCP: a healthy Bay Delta ecosystem and a reliable water supply for California. To that end, Secretary Salazar and Governor Brown released today a comprehensive response to public comments that included a revised MOA, a commitment to post all draft documents on the internet, and a commitment to work with stakeholders to develop additional agreements or a statement of principles that will guide the agencies' work on the BDCP. These documents, including a redlined version of the MOA, are available at www.BayDeltaConservationPlan.com.
The responses reflect the commitment shared by all parties to an open, transparent, and inclusive process; the imperative that any schedule not take precedence over the application of sound science in the development of a successful BDCP; and the willingness of state and federal agencies to engage directly with all interested entities to ensure their full and complete participation in BDCP development activities.
It is important to note that the Delta Reform Act of 2009 requires the beneficiaries of the project to pay for the planning process. This follows a long-standing principle of Delta water policy – for the entities that will benefit from an improvement to pay for that improvement. California law would have to change to have Delta communities or some third party pay for this process.
The actions announced today include:
Commitment to Transparency – As announced on Nov. 29, 2011, key BDCP-related documents will be posted on the BDCP website and made available to all interested parties concurrently – enhancing transparency in developing the BDCP and providing all parties prompt access to key documents. These documents are considered preliminary drafts and are being made available prior to the release of the formal public review drafts of the BDCP and the Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).
A list of key BDCP-related draft documents to be released and expected release dates have been posted on the BDCP website at www.BayDeltaConservationPlan.com. The formal public review and comment process for the drafts of the BDCP and EIR/EIS is expected to commence in the spring of 2012.
Commitments to Other Stakeholders – To confirm and elevate their commitment to provide full access to all stakeholders, the state and federal agencies will extend the opportunity to develop and enter into appropriate agreements or statements of principles regarding development of the BDCP with other interested stakeholders – such as local governments, special districts, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Specific Modifications to the MOA – State and federal agencies have proposed to the other parties to the MOA several modifications to the MOA in response to key concerns raised during the comment period. Proposed edits are shown on the redline/strikeout version of the MOA posted on the BDCP website.
Prioritizing Sound Science – State and federal agencies will conduct a monthly review of the BDCP schedule to evaluate any changed circumstances that may affect the schedule. The agencies will then publicly disclose any adjustments to the schedule that are made on an ongoing basis and the reasons for such adjustments. The aggressive schedules in the MOA will not trump the obligation to develop and evaluate the BDCP using the sound and credible scientific information.
Policy-level Engagement – Policy-level representatives from state and federal agencies will further build on their engagement in direct dialogue with a number of stakeholder groups to allow the policy-level representatives to gain a better understanding of the key issues to be addressed further during development of the BDCP.