Tule growing in habitat surrounding the future location of the Lookout Slough Tidal Restoration Project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Reflections on 2020 as We Move Forward in 2021

By Susan Tatayon

January 28, 2021

The year 2020 was an earth-shaking year that forced us to examine what really matters in our lives. Although much of the year was arduous, I’m heartened by our fortitude, tenacity, and professionalism, which allowed us to advance California’s coequal goals.

At the Council, our information technology department was vital to our rapid transition to teleworking. In response to Governor Newsom’s March 19 stay at home order, our team transitioned from almost zero teleworking to 100 percent by April. This timely transition allowed us to focus on initiatives imperative to implementing the Delta Plan.

Our progress on the Delta Adapts initiative, which is critical to implementing the Delta Plan, exemplifies our team’s dedication, adaptability, and flexibility during the transitional challenges of remote work and uncertainties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these complications, we developed an inclusive probabilistic modeling system, which will allow us to foresee many possible futures for the region and prioritize the distribution of resilience measures. This modeling system – along with the advice and input from the technical advisory committee and the comments and suggestions from stakeholders – helped us complete the vulnerability assessment essential to informing an adaptation strategy. This remarkable initiative was only one of several forward-looking efforts this year.

In 2020, we began our update to the Science Action Agenda by creating a framework for linking science actions to management needs to help ensure the Delta science enterprise connects the dots between management questions and science actions. Concurrent with the SAA was the Delta Independent Science Board’s (ISB) white paper, Funding Science to Meet Tomorrow’s Challenges, and the Science Needs Assessment Workshop (SNAW) and discussion series, which began laying the foundation for long-term science adaptation and flexibility. The SNAW challenged stakeholders to imagine and articulate the solutions and infrastructure necessary to promote a forward-looking Delta science enterprise.

Much of this innovation and adaptive management was made possible by insights gained from Delta Plan performance measures. 2020 marked the second year of our performance measures dashboard. The dashboard, which received more than 20,000-page views in 2020, supports the development of a more cohesive and collaborative system of information sharing. It is my hope that the performance measures dashboard – along with the proactive, forward-looking initiatives developed and executed this year – has created a foundation for greater Delta science enterprise connectivity.

2020 has demonstrated the efficacy and necessity of the work we do. I am honored to serve as the Chair of the Council through this transition and believe that the actions we have taken will ensure that we are not only able to further the coequal goals but also to lead our regional ecosystem in adapting to the challenges that lay ahead.

To learn more about the efforts, events, and indicatives mentioned in this blog, please read our 2020 Annual Report.

Delta Stewardship Council Chair Susan Tatayon speaking into a Delta Independent Science Board Meeting microphone.

About the Author

Susan Tatayon is Chair of the Delta Stewardship Council and has more than 30 years of experience in water resources policy, planning, and management. Her monthly blog shares updates about the direction of the Council, progress toward implementing the Delta Plan, and achieving the coequal goals of water supply reliability and restoring the Delta’s ecosystem.