WHEREAS the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta estuary, including Suisun Bay and Marsh (hereafter “Delta”), supports a unique and irreplaceable combination of environmental and economic resources. The Delta is a source of water for farmlands, growing communities and businesses and provides a unique estuarine habitat for many resident and migratory fish and birds, some listed as threatened or endangered species. It is an area that supports vital energy, transportation, communications and water facilities, and important agricultural, recreational and cultural resources. The Delta is of state and national significance and must be protected and managed effectively for the future well being of the people and the environment; and
WHEREAS the Delta is intersected by highways, roads, and utility lines critical to regional, state and interstate commerce and economy; and
WHEREAS the Delta is the hub of California’s two largest water distribution systems, the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project, and at least 7,000 other permitted water diverters have developed water supplies from the watershed feeding the Bay-Delta estuary, providing drinking water to about 23 million people and irrigation water to about 7 million acres of highly productive agricultural lands; and
WHEREAS recent events like the Lower Jones Tract levee failure and Hurricane Katrina, and recent findings that indicate a two in three chance of a major earthquake occurring in or near the Delta in the next fifty years, have raised awareness and concerns about the vulnerability of Delta levees. Failure of Delta levees can have devastating consequences on farms, communities, roads, railways, power and fuel transmission lines, water conveyance and quality, wildlife resources, and the local and state economy; and
WHEREAS threats such as an aging levee system, regional climate change, rising sea levels, seismic events and urbanization pose an imminent threat to the Delta; and
WHEREAS recent legislation, a number of planning efforts and scientists have affirmed that current uses and ecosystem health in the Delta are unsustainable over the long-term; and
WHEREAS there is growing recognition that prior Delta and Suisun strategic planning efforts have been too narrowly focused on only a few of the Delta’s many uses and resources; and
WHEREAS the combined threats and changing conditions within the Delta require immediate attention because of the potentially catastrophic environmental and economic consequences if timely action is not planned for and undertaken; and
WHEREAS the existing complex system of Delta governance has been criticized because no one level of government is fully in charge, or capable of responding in an orderly and effective way to address and mitigate the range of threats to the Delta.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, by virtue of the power vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the State of California, do hereby order effective immediately:
1. I hereby initiate the Delta Vision and establish an independent Blue Ribbon Task Force to develop a durable vision for sustainable management of the Delta. Making the Delta more sustainable will require a concerted, coordinated and creative response from leaders at all levels of government, stakeholders, academia and affected communities, and will require significant private and public partnerships and investments. The Delta Vision is designed to accomplish these goals:
(a) Meet the requirements of Assembly Bill 1200 (Water Code Sections 139.2 and 139.4), Assembly Bill 1803 (Water Code Section 79473) and SB 1574.
(b) Coordinate and build on the many ongoing but separate Delta planning efforts.
(c) Assess the risks and consequences to the Delta’s many uses and resources in light of changing climatic, hydrologic, environmental, seismic, and land use conditions. This assessment will look at:
- The environment, including aquatic and terrestrial functions and biodiversity.
- Land use and land use patterns, including agriculture, urbanization, and housing.
- Transportation, including streets, roads, highways, waterways, and ship channels.
- Utilities, including aqueducts, pipelines, and gas/electric transmission corridors.
- Water supply and quality, municipal/industrial discharges and urban and agricultural runoff.
- Recreation and tourism, including boating, fishing, and hunting.
- Flood risk management, including levee maintenance.
- Emergency response.
- Local and state economies.
(d) Develop a program for sustainable management of the Delta’s multiple uses, resources and ecosystem. Sustainable management of the Delta means managing the Delta over the long term to restore and maintain identified functions and values that are determined to be important to the environmental quality of the Delta and the economic and social well being of the people of the state. As part of the Delta Vision, priority functions and values will be identified, and measures necessary to provide long-term protection and management will be evaluated.
(e) Develop a Strategic Plan to implement findings and recommendations for public policy changes, public and private investment strategies, Delta-Suisun preparedness and emergency response plans for near-term catastrophic events, levee maintenance options, and how to monitor and report performance.
(f) Develop recommendations on institutional changes and funding mechanisms necessary for sustainable management of the Delta. Recommendations may include a discussion of oversight, land use and implementation authorities.
(g) Inform and be informed by current and future Delta planning decisions such as those pertaining to the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, Bay Delta Conservation Plan, Suisun Marsh Plan, Water Plan, updates of related General Plans, transportation and utilities infrastructure plans, integrated regional water management plans, and other resource plans.
2. The Secretary of the Resources Agency as chair, and the Secretaries of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Environmental Protection Agency, along with the President of the Public Utilities Commission shall be the Delta Vision Committee, for the Delta Vision. They shall undertake the following:
(a) Explore entering into agreements with private and non-governmental organizations to receive funding for Delta Vision. In addition, the Director of Finance may also accept monetary and in kind contributions to support the activities of the Delta Vision.
(b) Create a Stakeholder Coordination Group to involve local government, stakeholders, scientists, engineers, and members of the public in this effort to develop a Delta Vision.
(c) Select Delta Science Advisors from diverse scientific disciplines to provide independent review and advice to the Blue Ribbon Task Force on technical, scientific, and engineering data, analyses, and reports.
(d) Report to the Governor and the Legislature by December 31, 2008 with recommendations for implementing the Delta Vision and Strategic Plan.
3. I will appoint the members of a Blue Ribbon Task Force to include diverse expertise and perspectives, policy and resource experts, strategic problem solvers, and individuals having successfully resolved multi-interest conflicts. The Task Force will seek input from a broad array of public officials, stakeholders, scientists, and engineers. The Task Force will prepare an independent public report that will be submitted to the Delta Vision Committee and Governor that sets forth its findings and recommendations on the sustainable management of the Delta by January 1, 2008 and a Strategic Plan to implement the Delta Vision by October 31, 2008.
4. Upon submittal of the Delta Vision Committee’s recommendations to the Governor and Legislature, the Delta Vision initiative shall terminate unless extended by another executive order.
5. This order is not intended to create, and does not create, any right or benefit, whether substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, against the State of California, its agencies, departments, entities, officers, employees, agents, or any other person.