management: the existence of information gaps, good prospects for learning at an appropriate time scale compared to management decisions, and opportunities for adjustment. This panel has not performed a formal analysis of the BDCP’s situation in regard to these three conditions, and is not aware of any such analysis, but it does draw some preliminary conclusions. Clearly, the first condition (the presence of information gaps) exists, and the second condition (good prospects for learning) seems likely to exist if the program is designed well. The third condition (opportunities for adjustments) is more problematic. There are pressures for management guarantees; for example, the draft BDCP makes clear that one of its aims is a reliable water supply, and Sagouspe (2010) points out that the Planning Agreement that led to the BDCP provides assurances that “no additional restrictions on the use of land, water, or financial resources” beyond the agreed-on amounts will be required without the agreement of the water users (c.f. Richardson, 2010, cited above). Such agreements on their face seem to reduce opportunities for adjustments, although they do not necessarily preclude them altogether.
All of the above considerations lead as well to a reminder of the need for clear goals, cited in many appraisals of adaptive management (e.g., Milon et al., 1998), and this returns the panel to its earlier concern, namely, that the goals of the BDCP are multiple and not clearly integrated with each other. Despite all of the above challenges, there often is no better option for implementing management regimes, and thus the panel concludes that the use of adaptive management is appropriate for the BDCP.
In light of the above, this panel further concludes that the BDCP needs to address these difficult problems and integrate conservation measures into the adaptive management strategy before there can be confidence in the adaptive management program. In addition, an important step in adaptive management that is often given less attention than the others is the need for a mechanism to incorporate the information gained into management decision-making (e.g., NRC, 2003, 2006, 2008). This matter is critical;it also was raised by the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Independent Science Advisors (draft BDCP, Appendix G) and is discussed further below.
In 2009, the BDCP’s developers engaged a group of Independent Science Advisors to provide expertise on approaches to adaptive management in the BDCP (draft BDCP, Appendix G-3). Their advice has been incorporated into the adaptive management program presented in Section 3.7 of the draft BDCP. The Independent Science Advisors’ report to the BDCP Steering Committee identified key missing elements in the available documentation at the time, including the formal setting of goals based on problems; more effective use of conceptual or simulation models; a properly designed monitoring strategy to evaluate the effectiveness of conservation measures; and more effective assessment, synthesis, and assimilation of information collected during the implementation. Further, their report recommended an adaptive management framework for the BDCP (Bay Delta Conservation Plan Independent Science Advisors’ Report on Adaptive Management,2009, Figure 1, p. 3). The panel concludes that the Inde-