The statement of task (Appendix A) charges the NRC committee to review the scientific basis of the Services’ RPAs and advise on how to most effectively incorporate science and adaptive management concepts into holistic programs for management and restoration of the delta. To balance the need to inform near-term decisions with the need for an integrated view of water and environmental management challenges over the longer-term, the committee was tasked to produce two reports. This first report focuses on the scientific bases of the water-management alternatives (RPAs) in the two biological opinions and whether there might be possible alternative RPAs that would be as or more protective of the fishes with lesser impacts on other water uses. The committee also has considered “other stressors,” as specified in its statement of task. These are stressors not necessarily directly associated with the water projects; they are part of the “environmental baseline,” a concept related to the Endangered Species Act that refers to other anthropogenic modifications of the environment. As such, they are not addressed by the RPAs, because RPAs must address operations of the water projects.
In this first report, most of the committee’s focus has been on the question of the scientific bases of the water-management alternatives (RPAs) in the biological opinions, with a smaller focus on potential conflicts between the RPAs, potential alternative RPAs, and other stressors. The committee’s second report will focus on broader issues surrounding attempts to provide more sustainable water supplies and to improve the ecological sustainability of the delta, including consideration of what ecological goals might be attainable.
To prepare this report, the committee met in Davis, California for five days in January 2010. It heard presentations from representatives of federal and state agencies and a variety of other experts, and from members of the public, and began work on the report. The committee was able to consider information received by February 8, 2010. Additional writing and two teleconferences occurred in February, and the report was reviewed according to the NRC’s report-review procedure (the reviewers are acknowledged in the preface).