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STOCKTON, CA, Jan. 21, 2020 – Restore the Delta today filed comments today on the proposed Delta Plan ecosystem restoration amendments currently being considered by the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC).
Among the concerns about Delta stewardship are climate impacts, harmful algal blooms, and protecting indigenous and Delta environmental justice communities. Here are a few quotes from the comments letter.
Best Available Science
“In the absence of following the scientific evidence where it leads, the DSC’s policies will fail to be based on the best available science, something that state law obligates the Council to do.”
“We sense from this preliminary draft of Chapter 4 that there is much uncertainty as to the rate at which sea level rise and other effects of climate change will challenge the efficacy and sustainability of ecosystem restoration projects that come before the DSC as covered actions. We have concerns about this too, many of which we stated in our 2019 report on Climate Equity and Seismic Resilience in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary.”
“Abrupt climate changes may occur in the very near future, if they have not already commenced. Our attached report states some key reasons for it, including ice sheet melting and massive releases of carbon to the atmosphere from arctic permafrost regions. We urge the DSC and its Delta Science Program to acknowledge and incorporate abrupt climate change into planning efforts….”
Harmful Algal Blooms
“Controlling and reducing harmful algal bloom formation from now on should be an important policy goal in Chapter 4 not just because of benefits that can be expected for ecosystem and habitat restoration projects, but because they will also benefit Delta legacy communities and Delta environmental justice and disadvantaged communities.”
“We understand some species of cyanotoxins can become airborne, meaning that HABs are not just toxic when ingested by humans or dogs, but may be inhaled by human beings next to or not far from water bodies where HABs are present. This raises a serious public health concern for Delta residents in warm seasons. Stockton environmental justice tracts near the Port of Stockton and South Stockton waterways were recently awarded AB617 status to foster improved air quality conditions. The proliferation of airborne cyanobacteria could undercut other efforts to improve air quality for these impacted Delta environmental justice communities.”
Honoring Indigenous Communities in the Delta
“DSC should redouble its efforts to ensure that the historical role of Indigenous California communities in the Delta and in its broader watershed are accurately portrayed in the Delta Plan’s Chapter 4 and elsewhere, so that the DSC does not perpetuate erasure of the record of Indigenous peoples’ Delta residency.”