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California's draft Bay Delta conservation plan incomplete; needs better integration to be more scientifically credible
Date:5/5/2011

WASHINGTON A draft plan to conserve habitat for endangered and threatened fishes in the California Bay-Delta while continuing to divert water for agricultural and personal use in central and southern California has critical missing components, including clearly defined goals and a scientific analysis of the proposed project's potential impacts on delta species, says a new report from the National Research Council. In addition, the scientific information in the plan is fragmented and presented in an unconnected manner, making its meaning difficult to understand.

The delta region receives fresh water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries, and water from the delta ultimately flows into the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Pumping stations divert water from the delta, primarily to supply Central Valley agriculture and southern California metropolitan areas. The effects of an increasing population and the operation of the engineered water-control system have substantially altered the delta ecosystem, including its fish species.

The November 2010 draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) aims to gain authorization under the federal Endangered Species Act and companion California legislation for a proposed water diversion project, such as a canal or tunnel that would take water from the northern part of the delta directly to the south while protecting the region's ecosystems. To date approximately $150 million has been spent in developing the BDCP, which is being prepared by a steering committee of federal, state, and local agencies, environmental organizations, and other interest groups. The plan is slated for completion by 2013 and would be implemented over the next 50 years.

The draft BDCP states that the principal component of a habitat conservation plan is an "effects analysis," which the plan defines as "a systematic, scientific look at the potential impacts of a proposed project on those
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Contact: Jennifer Walsh
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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