Editor, Manteca Bulletin
Despite the alarms raised at the Jan. 17 Manteca city council meeting, homeowners and others who are involved in routine urban development or farming have no reason to fear the Delta Stewardship Council.
The Council was created by the Legislature in 2009 to write and carry out a Delta Plan to achieve two goals – protect and restore the Delta’s ecosystem and providing a reliable water supply for California. Projects that do not affect those two goals or conflict with flood control programs do not fall under the purview of the Council’s authority. Nor do activities like farming that do not require public funding or agency approvals.
Because the Council is aware that local agencies worry that their land use decisions could be potentially subject to the Council’s authority, we have spent many hours assuring local agencies that the Council is not interested in the vast majority of their projects. To calm local fears and illustrate the Council’s limited involvement¸ Council staff provided local agencies with examples of projects that could not and would not be subject to Council authority. Those examples came from a batch of projects currently under public environmental review.
The three projects cited in your article were among those reviewed. Two of these would not be covered by the Delta Plan, and are not subject to the Council’s authority. Thornton’s traffic study to evaluate parking along a local street involves simple road improvements within an urbanized area that would not significantly impact water supply reliability or the Delta ecosystem. And the proposed recycling center in Stockton would also not be subject to the Council’s authority because it is in a developed industrial area and can be served with the city’s current water supplies. We informed local officials that these projects would not be subject to the Delta Plan.
In the Mountain House development, however, a proposed neighborhood of more than 1,500 new homes on 691 acres of undeveloped land (not simply a change in a subdivision street alignment as described in the Bulletin’s article) might potentially have significant impacts to the Delta’s ecosystem.
Under the Delta Reform Act, local officials will assess whether a project is within the Council’s authority and, if it is, whether the project is consistent with the Delta Plan. The Delta Council would become involved only if that local determination is appealed to the Council by a third party.
The passage of the Delta Reform Act in 2009 represents the biggest stride forward in California water policy in decades. It is understandable that questions and concerns may arise. The Council is committed to openness and transparency. When local agencies have questions, we want them to come to us.
Delta Stewardship Council