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Issue Papers

The Delta Stewardship Council uses Issue Papers produced by the Council’s staff or consultants to explore various aspects and ideas of water-related issues – especially those dealing with the Delta and the state policy of coequal goals. These Issue Papers generally offer recommendations on possible solutions that would further the achievement of water supply reliability for California and ecosystem restoration for the Delta.


In addition, during the development of the Delta Plan, six specific White Papers were produced by the Delta Stewardship Council staff as informational documents. The Papers were designed to educate the Council on the background and critical issues of various individual items that eventually evolved into the 14 policies and 73 recommendations of the final Delta Plan.


Click here to jump to the initial six White Papers


State Investments in Delta Levees (2015)

This 43-page Issue Paper, authored by Dustin Jones, the Council's Integrated Regional Water Management Supervising Engineer, is entitled State Investments in Delta Levees, Key Issues for Updating Priorities.


The Delta Reform Act requires that the Delta Plan promote strategic levee investments that attempt to reduce risks to people, property, and state interests in the Delta (Water Code section 85305) and recommend priorities for state investment in levee operation, maintenance, and improvements in the Delta (Water Code section 85306). In addition, the Delta Plan may identify actions to be taken outside of the Delta, if those actions are determined to significantly reduce flood risks in the Delta and may include local plans of flood protection (Water Code section 85307(a-b)).


This paper outlines 15 issues that will need to be considered as the Council updates the Delta Plan’s provisions regarding State investment in the Delta’s levees. It summarizes background information about these issues, provides references for further information, and highlights key points to be addressed through the development of the Delta Levees Investment Strategy.


Click here to view the Issue Paper.


Ecosystem Restoration Issue Paper (2014)

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.


Click here to view the Issue Paper


Water Storage Issue Paper (2013)

This Issue Paper, authored by DSC Vice-Chair Randy Fiorini, is entitled, “Don’t Just Think ‘Big’ When Adding to State’s Water Storage Capacity.” The paper discusses the successes of many local public water agencies in constructing small storage projects, and suggests the State consider small, as well as large scale storage projects, to address California’s water storage needs. Specific recommendations include:


  • The California Water Commission should conduct a statewide survey of public water agencies to determine locations that have been considered locally or regionally for water storage but have not been pursued. To ensure public water agency participation the California Water Commission should partner with the Association of California Water Agencies to prepare for and conduct the survey and produce and inventory list.
  • Once a statewide survey of possible storage locations is complete and a comprehensive list of locations has been identified, the Department of Water Resources and the California Water Commission should evaluate and identify which locations with local support have a public benefit.


Click here to view the Issue Paper



Water Resources White Paper (2011)

This white paper is intended to describe the development of facilities and jurisdictional requirements over the past 150 years that have addressed beneficial uses, potential and real conflicts between those uses, and future risks. This white paper provides a summary of historical and existing conditions, but does not provide specific details such as operational criteria for water systems that divert water from the Delta watersheds. This white paper does not address methods to reduce the risks or reduce existing or potential adverse conditions in the Delta. Additional information will be provided in the Existing Conditions and Affected Environment sections of the EIR, including:

  • Surface water flows and water quality characteristics
  • Groundwater use and quality
  • Facilities used by the SWP, CVP, and other major water systems
  • Historical and existing water use, and a comparison of water use and water supplies
  • The draft water resources section of Existing Conditions will be presented to the Council in early 2011.


Click here to view the white paper
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Delta as a Place: Agriculture White Paper (2011)

The purpose of this white paper is to analyze past and current agricultural use in the Delta and correlated economic and ecosystem value of agricultural production. California law delegates authority to directly regulate land use to cities and counties. The primary method by which the agricultural land use is regulated in the Delta is through city and/or county general plan policies. City and county general plans include provisions to protect farmland, develop infrastructure, preserve and restore natural habitat, and concentrate future urban growth within existing city/community boundaries.


This white paper is not intended to describe the existing and projected conditions in detail. More detailed discussions of existing and projected conditions will be presented in the Delta Plan Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Draft versions of the EIR chapters that are related to the existing and projected future conditions without implementation of the Act will be provided in early 2011 for review by the Council and the public. Most of the information in this white paper is summarized or taken directly from existing documents. This white paper does not address regulation of agriculture or recommend policy. This white paper will be considered in the development of the framework for the Delta Plan and alternatives in the Draft EIR.


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Delta Emergency Management White Paper (2011)

This white paper has been developed to provide the Delta Stewardship Council with an overview of the state of emergency operations in the Delta as it relates to levee failures and their consequences. This white paper has the following two primary purposes:

  • The first purpose is to provide a historical context for emergency operations in the Delta, including an overview of agencies with jurisdiction to respond to a levee failure or flooding.
  • The second purpose is to provide a description of the current emergency management planning and coordination activities taking place among these agencies.


This white paper achieves these two purposes by briefly summarizing (1) the history of emergency response in the Delta, (2) the authority of various agencies with jurisdiction to respond to levee failures and/or flooding, (3) the current status of emergency response and planning activities in the Delta, and (4) an overview of eligibility for disaster assistance.


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Delta Land Use/Socioeconomics White Paper (2011)

This white paper is intended to describe land use patterns in the Delta and local plans and other policy guidance documents that guide those uses in sufficient detail to inform policy development for the Delta Plan.


This paper is also intended to aid understanding of how urbanization and/or conservation policies in and around the Delta would address future issues facing the Delta and whether these policies are consistent or inconsistent with the policy direction given by the Act.


In addition, this white paper serves as the substantial basis for the environmental setting section of the Delta Plan EIR. This white paper focuses on the five primary counties (and cities in those counties) that are within the Primary and Secondary Zones of the Delta—Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, and Yolo. A small portion of Alameda County, the northeast corner bordering San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties, is in the Secondary Zone. This part of Alameda County contains agricultural lands and facilities, and few residences, roads, and water conveyance infrastructure.


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Delta Ecosystem White Paper (2011)

The purpose of this white paper is to address several central questions to the Delta Plan:

  • Why should we care about the Delta ecosystem?
  • What tells us the Delta ecosystem is in poor condition today?
  • What actions have caused degradation to the Delta ecosystem?
  • What are the mechanisms through which these human modifications cause the degradation?
  • What are the roles of current programs, plans, and policies that may influence the development of the Delta Plan?
  • Where are the available funding resources that may support ecosystem restoration activities?
  • What risks does the Delta ecosystem face in the future?


This white paper does not address methods to reduce the risks or reduce existing or potential adverse conditions in the Delta.


Click here to view the white paper
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Flood Risk White Paper (2011)


This Flood Risk White Paper has two primary purposes as it relates to introducing the topic of risk reduction to the Delta Stewardship Council in the course of developing the Delta Plan:

  • The first purpose is to provide a historical context for levee construction and performance in the Delta.
  • The second purpose is to introduce the primary types of risks facing the levees in the Delta today and how those risks may change in the future.
  • This White Paper will achieve these two purposes by briefly summarizing (1) the history of levee construction in the Delta, (2) levee performance over time, (3) the programs available to fund maintenance and rehabilitation, and (4) current risks and the future trends that affect levees' sustainability.
  • This paper makes broad use of previous published studies. Emergency preparedness and response will be addressed in a separate white paper in development for November 2010.


Click here to view the white paper
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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)