I was going to title this 'My Take on the NAS Bay-Delta Committee Meeting,' but decided to avoid the word 'take.'
I have nothing 'exciting' to report from the first meeting of the NAS Committee on Sustainable Water and Environmental Management in the California Bay-Delta [on which I serve] here in Davis on the UC campus. Compared to what transpired in Los Angeles on 25 January (from Emily Green's post) we had a quiet affair:
The easiest way to accomplish that when describing yesterday’s Los Angeles field hearing of the US House Sub-Committee on Water and Power is to thank the chair, Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, who proved a model of efficiency and civility.
From there, it gets difficult.
Sounds like they had quite an event down there.
By contrast, the meeting here was a model of decorum. No fireworks, no name-calling - just information, and LOTS of it. It was a meeting designed to provide the committee with information, although we had already received a few thousand pages (electronically) of material to review. And plenty more was on its way. Someone mentioned about 150,000 pages of supporting documents!
I'm guesssing that we had no more than about 200-25o people each day. We had planned for about 500 each day. It was interesting to note that two NAS media relations officers were there, plus the Congressional liaison.
On the afternoon of 24 January we heard from Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) who represents the 20th District in the Central Valley - all of Kings and parts of Kern and Fresno Counties. All of these counties are in the Top 10 among U.S. counties in agriculture production. He spoke of the current hardships of his constituents and naturally referred to the reduction in water exports from the Bay-Delta system to farmers in his district. He likened the Bay-Delta water situation to flying a plane but having only the altitude control at your disposal. He was very gracious, and thanked the commitee for its time and effort.
Rep. Costa was also part of the House Subcommittee meeting reported upon by Emily Green.
It's not a wise use of the National Academy of Sciences, in my opinion," said Mount, who served on a prior academy panel that examined Klamath River issues. "It will become a sideshow. We are setting a bad precedent that will stretch well beyond the Delta."
Despite the above, he welcomed the committee, and noted that we have a wonderful opportunity to have a lasting impact on water management in California. Here is his entire statement:
This was a full day, devoted to presentations from the agencies involved in the Biological Opinions (BiOps): USBR; NOAA; FWS; CDFG; and NOAA-NMFS. The committee was able to ask questions of the presenters.
The last 90 minutes or so were devoted to an open microphone session, where anyone could speak for 3 minutes, with no more than three people from any one organization. Fifteen people spoke.
This day had the same format as Day 2. We heard presentations from agency people, but not those directly involved in the BiOps. We first were welcomed by UCD Chancellor Linda Katehi, who also pitched her new university. We heard from CA DFG; CA DWR; and the CALFED Bay-Delta Program.
After the above we heard presentatons from invited outside experts: Christina Swanson (The Bay Institute); Peter B. Moyle (UCD); Rick Deriso (Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission); Greg Gartrell (Contra Costa Water District); David Fullerton (MWD); B.J. Miller (consultant); Scott Hamilton and a biologist (Coalition for a Sustainable Delta).
The open microhone then followed, with 16 speakers.
We also heard from DeeDee D'Adamo, representing Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA).
I picked up some new abbreviations/acronyms: OCAP, CVPIA, HABS, POD, PEI, RPA, OMR, X2 (no longer will I think of the Bell X-2 rocket plane), VAMP, HOR, PTM, FTWM, HORB, NPB, EWA, CPUE, CCFB, DSM2, D-1641, B2, WOMIT (interesting to pronounce this as a German would). I am sure I left out a dozen or two.
And I now know how complicated the Bay-Delta system is, far more than I had imagined.
Now the fun part starts - for the next two days, the committee will meet in private and begin its work on preparing a report on the two BiOps, due about 15 March 2010.
I'm tired now, but feel good about what I've seen and heard. Thanks to all the participants and kudos to chair Bob Huggett, who kept things running on time.
Time to sleep.
"Fish think about two things: food and sex. They're like teenaged boys, only better." -- Jerry Johns, Deputy Director CA DWR
"The Bay-Delta situation is like an airplane being flown by three pilots in the cockpit, each with a set of controls. And the cabin is full of angry passengers who bought tickets to different destinations." -- Dr. Steve Lindley, NMFS