The committee concludes that the lack of explicitly integrated comprehensive environmental and water planning and management results in decision making that is inadequate to meet the delta’s and the state’s diverse needs, including environmental and ecological conditions in the delta. In addition, the lack of integrated, comprehensive planning has hindered the conduct of science and its usefulness in decision making.
Many efforts have been made to improve state and federal water planning, management, and regulation. Examples include the Porter Cologne Act in 1969 (particularly the Basin Plans), the Clean Water Act of 1972 (particularly § 208), and the Urban Water Management Planning Act of 1985, together with recent amendments, state funding for watershed planning activities, local groundwater planning, recent legislation on improving groundwater use databases, and a variety of other regulations and laws designed to improve water management. Each of these efforts recognizes that water science and technology should support planning that is comprehensive and that considers quality and quantity, considers the environment and economics, and does so transparently to gain public confidence.
The committee recommends that California undertake a comprehensive review of its water planning and management functioning and design modifications to existing responsibilities and organizations that will anticipate future needs, including those identified in this report. These needs include dealing with scarcity, balanced consideration of all statewide water-use practices and hardware alternatives, and adaptive management that can adjust to changing conditions. The result should be that regions such as the delta can be effective partners in a coordinated statewide effort.
With respect to water transfers discussed in Chapter 2, the state should facilitate voluntary transfers and identify buyers and sellers for both short-term and long-term needs. An essential element might be options to purchase dry-year entitlements. Thus, reliability-dependent users—urban, industrial, and agricultural—would have some long-term confidence that shortages would be minimized by a predictable amount. As part of its oversight of such transfers, the state must ensure that necessary instream flow levels are maintained.
Delta conditions identified in previous chapters indicate that scarcity of water for all needs will become severe. While more effective planning is being developed, the state will need to get the most overall value from its water resources. A variety of tools are available, including demand-side management (conservation, including more-efficient and more-productive water use) and supply-side management (water transfers, new sources of supply, more-integrated management of groundwater and surface water, enforcement of the constitutional reasonable and beneficial use limita-