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Delta Levees Investment Strategy

The Delta Reform act of 2009 called on the Delta Stewardship Council (Council) to lead a multi-agency effort to update priorities for State investments in the Delta levee system to reduce the likelihood and consequences of levee failures, to protect people, property, and State interests, while advancing the coequal goals of improving water supply reliability, restoring the Delta ecosystem, and protecting and enhancing the values of the Delta as an evolving place.

 

In response, the Council launched the Delta Levees Investment Strategy (DLIS) that combined risk analysis, economics, engineering, and decision-making techniques to identify funding priorities and assembled a comprehensive investment strategy for the Delta levees.

 

Please click here to access the DLIS Decision Support Tool webpage.

 

Click the bars below for more information

 

The Delta Levees Investment Strategy (DLIS) is being developed in collaboration with State agencies, local reclamation districts, Delta landowners and businesses, and other stakeholders. It will be based on the best available data, and lessons learned from other State and local programs and planning efforts.


The process began in Spring 2014 with the Council’s staff working on:
 

  • Developing an initial outreach plan
  • Developing materials describing an overview of the DLIS
  • Drafting an outline for a risk reduction policy paper
  • Assisting the Lead Scientist to selecting an independent peer-review panel


Engineering consultant ARCADIS then came on board in July 2014 and began to assist with:
 

  • Preparing a communications plan and information materials for ongoing outreach efforts
  • Developing a DLIS webpage on the Council’s website
  • Compiling data and developing risk analysis methodologies


In September 2014, the Council developed a draft DLIS Issue Paper. That was followed by the receipt of comments on the draft, which can be viewed here. And in December 2014 a final draft DLIS Issue Paper was developed. The Final DLIS Issue Paper was released in January 2015. The Issue Paper outlines the issues the Council members will consider, will help guide the members during their deliberations, and will assist them in the decision-making processes as they update Delta Plan provisions regarding State investment in Delta levees. The Paper also summarizes background information about these issues, provides references for further information, and highlights key points that will need to be addressed.

 

Between October 2014 and April 2015, the Council began hosting expert panel discussions at Council meetings and public meetings at locations throughout the Delta. A list of the public meetings is available here.

 

On March 11, 2015 the Council held a half-day DLIS Technical/Policy Workshop, which focused on levees and risk management, strategies for State investments to reduce risk while meeting multiple objectives, and issues related to liability. Technical experts from the region and around the country attended and engaged the Council, its staff, and consultants in a dialog related to these topics.

 

At the March 2015 Council meeting, staff presented a DLIS Methodology on Risk Analysis, which focused on how assets in the Delta are threatened by hazards – river flooding and seismic failure – resulting in flooding caused by levee breaches.

 

At the April 2015 Council meeting, staff presented a DLIS Methodology on Cost Allocation, which focused on how to allocate the costs on the improvements, repair, and maintenance of the Delta’s levee system.

 

On May 19-20, 2015, the Independent Scientific Review Panel discussed its review of the methodology developed by ARCADIS and the supporting scientific basis. Information on the two-day event is available on two Council webpages:
 


At the May 2015 Council meeting, a DLIS principles document was presented entitled Delta Flood Management Investment Strategy Principles. The principles reflect discussions among Council members at the March and April 2015 meetings and advice from the March 11, 2015 Risk Management/Levee Expert Workshop, as well as from consultants, stakeholders, and staff. The principles will guide further development of the DLIS.

 

On May 28, 2015, the Council filed with the State Clearinghouse a Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the environmental review of the potential DLIS. The Council intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the update to the DLIS Policy and it held two public scoping meetings on June 30, 2015 to receive comments on the scope and content of the EIR. To review the cover letter to the State Clearinghouse and the NOP itself, please click here.

 

At the June 25, 2015 Council meeting, staff summarized the comments received on the Principle's document following the Council’s May meeting. Council member Patrick Johnston said he would redraft the Principles document taking into account the comments and that he would bring back a document for the July or August meeting. Also presented by staff was a project schedule that offered a timeline on the development of the DLIS from technical, policy, and CEQA perspectives.

 

On July 2, 2015 the Independent Scientific Review Panel that had first reviewed and then discussed on May 19-20 the methodology developed by ARCADIS and the supporting scientific basis for the DLIS, published its findings in a report entitled Methodology and Scientific Basis to Support the Delta Levee Investment Strategy.  Information on the two-day event is available on two Council webpages:

 

At the July 23-24, 2015 Council meeting, following staff presentations on updating the Principles document, the Council voted unanimously to adopt the Revised Delta Flood Management Investment Strategy Principles with the provision that Item 10 on the document be refined and brought back to the Council for consideration at the August meeting. Also, as requested by the Council, Executive Fellow Gavin Landgraf created a report discussing the funding authorities of Delta reclamation districts and their finances as reported to the State Controller’s Office. The report, entitled Delta Reclamation Financing and Budgets, summarizes applicable provisions of the State constitution and the Water Code and relevant court cases that affect districts’ assessments and fees for levee maintenance and improvement.

 

At the August 27-28, 2015 Council meeting, after reviewing the revision to Item 10 of the Delta Flood Management Investment Strategy Principles, the members unanimously approved the updated language. The discussion and the new language are available for review on the Meeting Summary. Following that discussion, staff provided the Council with a summary of the Independent Science Panel’s report on the DLIS proposed methodology, which the Council received in July. The Project Schedule was also briefly discussed.

 

At the September 24, 2015 Council meeting the members were briefed by a panel of two subject matter experts that offered case studies showcasing levee improvements in both rural and urban regions in the Delta, represented by work in the northern Delta and for the City of West Sacramento. These case studies were intended to inform the Council about specific improvements and show how the presenters believe it is possible for levees to reach a “maintenance mode” where they would no longer require significant funding for improvements.

 

At a special October 12, 2015 Work Session, the Council focused specifically on the DLIS. The purpose of the meeting was to demonstrate the draft decision-support tool that is part of the DLIS project. The demonstration focused on information contained in the tool relating to the protection of people, property and the coequal goals and a preliminary risk analysis of the Delta’s islands and tracts. The tool’s risk analysis incorporates the probability of levee failure by island and the consequences of these failures in terms of lives lost, property damaged, water supply disruption, habitat change and Delta as a Place elements. In addition, Council staff discussed the next steps in development of the decision-support tool including the use of conceptual investments to reduce risk and the cost-effectiveness of these investments. The discussion utilized a PowerPoint presentation.

 

The members were also presented with a new fact sheet entitled Managing Flood Risk with a Delta Levees Investment Strategy and they reviewed the Staff recommendations regarding State interests to further consider in the development of a DLIS document from the March 26 Council meeting.

 

At the October 22-23, 2015 Council meeting, staff presented to the Council a draft executive summary of the Levee-Related Habitat Review. The full Draft Levee Related Habitat Review was subsequently posted on the website. Public comments on the document were sought through Friday, November 13, 2015. An updated DLIS Project Schedule was also presented to the Council and posted on the website.

 

At the November 19, 2015 Council meeting, staff briefed the Council on non-structural options that might be considered as part of a broader risk reduction strategy for the Delta. This included developing effective emergency preparedness measures as a means of reducing risks in the Delta due to flooding. The documents the Council received from staff included a list of Risk Reduction Alternatives and a list of Delta communities that participate in FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS). The table of participating communities also showed the discount on flood insurance premiums that each community receives. An updated DLIS Project Schedule was also included.

 

At the December 17, 2015 Council meeting, staff briefed the members on staff’s continued review of an Independent Scientific Review Panel report on the DLIS methodology. Council staff have been reviewing the Panel’s comments with its agency partners and determining an agreed-upon course of action to address those comments. Also discussed were the Next Steps in the development of the DLIS Decision-Support Tool and the Non-Structural Alternatives. An updated DLIS Project Schedule was also presented.

 

At the January 31, 2016 Council meeting, staff briefed the members about a follow-up meeting staff and the ARCADIS team had with stakeholders to update them on recent DLIS activities, the expected activities for 2016, and to discuss the methodology used by the decision-support tool. Jessica Davenport, the Council’s acting deputy executive officer for planning, then presented for the Council’s endorsement the proposed final draft of the issue paper, Improving Habitats along Delta Levees; Executive Summary, which was developed to support the DLIS. The draft paper, which included input from the members and the public, is the revision of the draft version presented to the Council in October. The full version of the proposed final draft of the issue paper can be found here. Ms. Davenport used a PowerPoint presentation to augment her discussion.

 

At the February 25, 2016 Council meeting, the Executive Officer briefed the members about staff’s meetings with Caltrans and the Delta Protection Commission about the proposed Delta as Place methodology to be used in the project’s computer-assisted decision support tool.

 

At the March 24, 2016 Council meeting, the Council unanimously approved to have Executive Officer Jessica Pearson increase the contracts amount between the Delta Stewardship Council, its engineering consultant ARCADIS, and the Department of Water Resources for work related to developing updated priorities for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy (DLIS) by $1,845,902 for a total contract amount of $4,308,393. The additional funding is for data development, outreach activities, and the CEQA process.

 

At the April 28, 2016 Council meeting, staff briefed the Council members about the islands and tracts where State interests have been identified within the Delta and Suisun Marsh, followed by a discussion on the possible implications of using this information to inform the development of a risk reduction strategy. Staff presented several documents, including State Interests for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy as well as eight other documents that indicated the value of population, property and other assets, islands that support water supply, current and potential freshwater habitats, potential tidal habitat locations, and locations supporting the Delta’s unique values. Another document, Delta Levees Maintenance Subventions Program Expenses, was also presented. A final document, Summary of Data Sources for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy Asset Evaluation, was also offered to the Council members. Members of the DLIS consulting team then walked the Council members through the early parts of the decision support tool explaining its mapping, and then discussed the DLIS approach to considering risk to inform decisions about levee investment priorities. The video demonstration of the tool can be found by clicking here and then following the timestamp at 3:34:46 through 4:03:41.”

 

At the May 26, 2016 Council meeting, staff briefed the Council members about the islands and tracts within the Delta and Suisun Marsh where risks to State interests due to potential levee failures have been identified. Staff presented two documents: Annual Probability of Flooding, and Risks to State Interests. Staff then announced two public DLIS workshops planned for June 6 in Brentwood and June 9 in West Sacramento. The focus of the workshops is to work with local stakeholders and technical experts within the region, walk through the DLIS tool and receive feedback. Two Council consultants then discussed what risk meant and where the greatest risks have been identified for life, property, water supply, and ecosystem function in non-tidal habitat, and Delta as a place. They then demonstrated the DLIS tool. The video demonstration of the tool can be found by clicking here and then following the timestamp at 1:21:00 through 1:50:11.

 

At the June 23, 2016 Council meeting, staff briefed the Council members on the two outreach meetings held in June, one in Brentwood and one in West Sacramento, where the DLIS Decision Support Tool was demonstrated and discussed. Staff was interested to know how the public ranked the risks and priorities in the Delta. Staff told the members that most of the public ranked loss of life as the first priority and property damage as the second, and that loss of non-tidal habitat was of less importance. Staff also mentioned that meetings have been scheduled in the upcoming weeks to work with specific groups to address items of concern.

 

At the July 28, 2016 Council meeting regarding the DLIS, the members first discussed the upcoming Joint Meeting of the Council and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board scheduled for August 12, 2016. Among the Council members’ comments were: ensuring the timing of the DLIS coincides with the Board’s Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP); a collaboration between the two agencies on the prioritization of project levees in the Delta since the Board only addresses them while the DLIS addresses both project and non-project levees; and determining how the CVFPP relates to the DLIS and the coequal goals.

 

Following that discussion, staff then briefed the Council on the potential prioritization of State investments in Delta levees as part of the DLIS. Staff’s presentation included a handout of frequently asked questions about the DLIS, an updated project schedule, and a PowerPoint that included the background and purpose of the DLIS, risk analysis results, prioritizing options, and next steps. Based on the Council’s direction, staff plans to bring a draft of the potential prioritization of State investments in Delta levees and other related provisions to the August 25, 2016 meeting.

 

At the August 12, 2016 Joint Meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, the Council sited the Delta Reform Act and its requirement that its Delta Plan seeks to reduce risks to people, property, and State interests by promoting strategic levee investments. The Council said this is being done through the development of the Delta Levees Investment Strategy (DLIS).

 

The Board stated how it has broad authority over the State Plan of Flood Control with its Central Valley Flood Protection Plan. In preparation for the Joint Meeting, the Board said it developed a guidance document addressing broad themes of import to the Board to guide its discussions and comments to the Council as the DLIS is developed, particularly since the Board only addresses issues facing project levees and the DLIS will be looking at both project and non-project levees in the Delta.

 

The Council concluded that during the development of the DLIS, in consultation with the Board, it shall recommend priorities for State investments in Delta levee operation, maintenance, and improvements.

 

At the August 25, 2016 Council meeting staff presented to the members a draft of an amendment to the Delta Plan’s current regulatory policies and recommendations to reduce risk to people, property, and State interests in the Delta. The draft Delta Plan revisions include a potential prioritization of State investments in Delta levees as required by the Delta Reform Act. The documents included: a Discussion Draft of Potential Revisions to Chapter 7 Policies and Recommendations; a revised redline-version of Attachment 1; Discussion Draft Prioritization of Islands and Tracts; a Discussion Draft Map of Prioritization of Islands and Tracts; Areas where Easements to Mitigate Subsidence Would be Required; a DPC Resolution of Support for Bicycle Lanes Along Improved Levees in the Delta; and a Letter from Friends of the Sacramento River Parkway.

 

Staff said they will make revisions and refinements to the discussion draft based on the feedback from the members. Then, with the assistance of consultants, staff walked the members through the revised discussion draft page by page, explaining the changes and the rationale as well as hearing Council members’ comments, answering questions and providing clarification. View the August Meeting Summary to read all the members’ comments and questions, as well as the public comments.

 

At the September 29-30, 2016 Council meeting, Item 11 (which was renumbered as Item 10 on a revised meeting agenda), Acceptance of Discussion Draft of Delta Plan Revisions regarding Priorities for State Delta Levees Investment, was pulled from the agenda.

 

At the October 27, 2016 Council meeting staff updated the members on the progress towards implementation of Delta Plan Risk Recommendation No. 2, Finance Local Flood Management Activities (RR R2). RR R2 would identify funding sources for Delta levee maintenance and improvement.

 

The Delta Protection Commission’s (DPC) Economic Sustainability Plan includes a recommendation that complements the Delta Plan’s about creating a regional district to assess levee beneficiaries for levee maintenance and improvement funds. At the Council meeting, staff from the DPC briefed the members about the DPC’s feasibility study on the creation of a Delta Flood Risk Management Assessment District. View the October Meeting Summary to read all the members’ comments and questions.

 

At the November 17, 2016 Council meeting the Delta Independent Science Board (Delta ISB) briefed the Council members on a Delta Levee Science Workshop held in July, and the subsequent workshop report, Earthquakes and High Water as Levee Hazards in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Participants at the workshop discussed potential levee integrity issues such as sea level rise and earthquakes. The Delta ISB then discussed with the Council members how the information gathered from the workshop might pertain to the DLIS. Some members felt it would be appropriate to have more scientific input on levee and other risk reduction issues at venues such as the DPIIC meetings. View the November Meeting Summary to read all the members’ comments and questions.

 

At the December 15, 2016 Council meeting staff briefed the members on a discussion draft of Delta Plan revisions to implement the Delta Levees Investment Strategy (DLIS), a revision from a previous draft in August intended to be responsive to the Council’s comments and questions as well as the input from partner agencies and stakeholders. The presentation also included a number of supporting attachments including the prioritization of islands and tracts, a map of the water supply reliability corridor from the Delta Plan, the estimated risk of levee failure under a 2050 high sea level rise scenario, and others. The attachments are all located on the 12/15/2016 meeting materials page under the headings of Agenda Item 9. Staff walked the members through the discussion draft page by page noting the changes. View the December Meeting Summary to read all the members’ comments and questions, as well as the comments of the public.

 

At the January 26, 2017 Council meeting staff briefed the members on two public workshops where comments were received on a discussion draft of Delta Plan revisions to implement the Delta Levees Investment Strategy (DLIS). Comments received focused on the data, analysis, and prioritization developed for the draft, as well as a comparison to DWR’s Subventions Program. A PowerPoint presentation on new information regarding sea-level rise, and its possible impact on the Delta’s levee system, was also shown to the members. View the January Meeting Summary to read all the members’ comments and questions, as well as staff’s comments and the comments of the public.

 

On Day 2 of the February 23-24, 2017 Council meeting staff briefed the members on the development of a revised discussion draft of Delta Plan revisions to implement the Delta Levees Investment Strategy (DLIS). Included in the discussion were the Potential Revisions to Chapter 7 Policies and Recommendations, a Table of Levee Funding Programs, and a Table of Received Comments relating to the issue. View the February Meeting Summary to read all the members’ comments and questions, as well as staff’s comments and the comments of the public. It was noted that staff would bring back a revised recommendation at the March meeting.

 

At the March 23, 2017 Council meeting, staff asked the members to approve the Draft Amendment of Delta Plan Revisions for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy. The draft amendment is a culmination of a multi-year process and reflects comments from multiple Council meetings and stakeholder outreach. The approved draft amendment would be the preferred alternative for the purpose of drafting a project description for the CEQA document that will be prepared for this and the other Delta Plan amendments.

 

Among the reports presented were the staff report, the discussion draft to potential revisions, an addendum to the staff recommendation, a map that displays State expenditures on Delta levees, and the Draft Priorities for State Investment in Delta and Suisun Marsh Levees.

 

After Council member and public discussion, the draft amendment was unanimously approved by the Council with the understanding that amendment language regarding the Delta Protection Commission’s Delta Flood Risk Management Assessment District Feasibility Study would be revised per Member Thomson’s request. View the March Meeting Summary to read all the members’ comments, questions, and suggestions, as well as staff’s comments and the comments of the public.

 

At the April 27-28, 2017 Council meeting the Draft Amendment of Delta Plan Revisions for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy was not on the agenda.

 

At the May 25, 2017 Council meeting the Draft Amendment of Delta Plan Revisions for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy was not on the agenda.

DLIS MOU and Joint Implementation Plan from
Delta Stewardship Council June 22, 2017 Meeting

 

 

Revisions to Current DLIS Amendment from
Delta Stewardship Council June 22, 2017 Meeting

 

 

Final Draft as Amended by the Council on March 23

 

 

Discussion Draft of Potential Revisions to Chapter 7 Policies and Recommendations
Originally Agenda Item 10 Attachment 1 from
Delta Stewardship Council March 23, 2017 Meeting

 

 

Comparison of PL 84-99 Analyses Delta Levees Investment Strategy (DLIS)
Technical memorandum prepared for the Delta Stewardship Council by Arcadis

February 2017

 

 

Reclamation District Ability to Pay (ATP) Analysis
Technical memorandum prepared for the Delta Stewardship Council by Arcadis
February 2017

 

 

The Delta Independent Science Board (Delta ISB) Draft Report: Earthquakes and High Water as Levee Hazards in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (August 2016) is based on a one-day workshop about Delta levee science that took place on July 14, 2016 as part of a meeting of the Delta ISB. It describes the scope of the workshop, gives the Delta ISB’s understanding of the information presented, and offers perspectives about future research related to earthquakes and high water as hazards for Delta levees. Public comments on the report were accepted through Sept. 22, 2016 and will be considered in preparing the final version of the report.
 

The final Risk Analysis Methodology Report (August 2016) has been revised to include an updated Appendix A, which contained errors due to problems with the printing format. In addition, in response to stakeholder feedback the count of islands and tracts has been revised to combine a few units that had been previously considered to be hydraulically isolated. The revised island count required modifications to several tables and figures and replacement of Appendices A, D, and E. The methodology for estimating future population in Section 4.0 was also revised.

 

 

Risk Analysis Methodology Final Report
July 2016

 

 

Review Technical Memoranda from
Delta Levee Prioritization Methodology Peer Review Meeting
Held on May 19-20, 2015

 

 

Delta Reclamation District Financing and Budgets
This report discusses the funding authorities of
Delta reclamation districts & their finances as reported to the State Controller’s Office

 

 

Memorandum from Council Contrator ARCADIS
The memo describes the methodology
used to account for the impact of potential future sea level rise on the DLIS metrics
and how those impacts are incorporated into the DLIS planning tool

 

 

Revised Delta Flood Management Investment Strategy Principles

 

 

Draft Levee Related Habitat Review

 

 

Proposed Final Draft of Levee Related Habitat Review

 

 

                             Final: Levee Related Habitat Review Issue Paper

 

 

Delta Levees Investment Strategy Issue Paper
January 2015

 

 

To facilitate the development of a transparent, reproducible, and effective methodology to prioritize the State’s funding for levee work, the Department of Water Resources prepared an interagency agreement with the Council to develop a methodology that uses existing data to quantify assets and other benefits associated with each Delta island and tract to establish a basis to judge the effectiveness of State funds to accomplish State objectives. Following a competitive proposal solicitation, a consulting team led by ARCADIS was awarded the contract for the project.

 

The methodology will support development of the approach that will be used to prioritize and classify islands to guide a long-term State levee investment strategy that will be based on the best available science and modeling. An Independent Scientific Review Panel was selected by the Delta Science Program to review the methodology developed by ARCADIS and its scientific basis. This review ensures that the approach taken is transparent, robust, and sufficiently sensitive to quantify and prioritize the assets and risks to State interests associated with each leveed island and tract.

 

NOTICE OF PREPARATION

On May 28, 2015 the Delta Stewardship Council (Council) filed with the State Clearinghouse a Notice of Preparation (NOP). The Council intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the update to the Delta Levee Investment Strategy Policy (DLIS Policy) and will hold two public scoping meeting to receive comments on the scope and content of the EIR.

 

DRAFT DISCUSSION COMMENTS
 

 

GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

 

ARCHIVED DLIS PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

Public Comments on Draft Issue Paper:

 

Individual Comments and Responses:


Schedule for Addressing State Investments on Issue Paper Questions

 

Other Public Comments on the DLIS:

 

Delta Flood Management Investment Strategy Principles Comment Letters:

 

DLIS Archives Page

Includes previous iterations of the DLIS Issue Paper and public comments on the Paper, as well as previous DLIS public meeting locations, dates, and times

Coequal goals

The Delta Stewardship Council was created in legislation to achieve the state mandated coequal goals for the Delta. "'Coequal goals' means the two goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The coequal goals 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." (CA Water Code §85054)