Delta Task Force, Board Agree on Urgency

A final report from a committee of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's cabinet-level advisers that recognizes the urgency of the state's supply crisis and that immediate action must be taken to address long-standing problems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was unanimously supported recently by Metropolitan Water District's Board of Directors.

Based on recommendations detailed in a strategic plan by the governor's Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Delta Vision Committee's report advocated a comprehensive solution that would ensure California's supply future by calling for

  • habitat improvements;
  • a statewide commitment to water-use reductions and local resource development;
  • additional groundwater storage;
  • completion of surface storage investigations; and
  • construction of a dual conveyance system in the Delta, beginning in 2011.

"The committee's final report serves as a road map to implement lasting Delta solutions for habitat restoration, water conservation, and system improvements," said Metropolitan board Chair Timothy F. Brick.

"Even more importantly, we wholeheartedly endorse the committee's decision to embrace the primary conclusion that the Delta must be managed to restore the ecosystem and create a more reliable water supply for California. These two fundamental concepts must be recognized as co-equal goals that should be incorporated into state law and act as the key litmus test for proposals in the Delta for years to come," Brick said.

Formed where the rivers of the Sierra Nevada merge before heading toward San Francisco Bay, the Delta is a critical component of the state's water supply, helping sustain two-thirds of California's residents and grow about half of the nation's fruits and vegetables. About 30 percent of Southern California's total supplies in a year moves across the Delta to state-operated pumps and aqueduct.

Along with the committee's report, Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said the district supports Gov. Schwarzenegger's call for a 20 percent reduction in per-capita water use in California by the year 2020.

"The completion of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan by the end of 2010 also is absolutely essential because it will serve as the framework for pairing the necessary ecosystem improvements with changes to the water conveyance system," said Kightlinger, who was appointed by the governor to serve on the Stakeholders Committee of the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force.

"In addition, the new biological opinion and regulations for Delta smelt and longfin smelt reflect the inability to meet the co-equal goals of Delta Vision with the existing water system," he added.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.