DPAC Minutes 2023-12-19

Meeting Minutes (Approved)
Delta Protection Advisory Committee

Tuesday, December 19, 2023, 5:30 p.m.

Steamboat Landing Bar and Grill, Walnut Grove, CA 95690

1. Call to Order/Flag Salute – Anna Swenson, DPAC Chair

Chair Anna Swenson called the meeting to order at 5:34 p.m.

2. Welcome and Roll Call

A quorum was present with members Swenson, Ryan, Hard, Hsia, Looney, Lum, Mello, Pellerin and Watanabe in attendance.

3. Public Comment

There were no comments from members of the public.

4. Approval of October 10, 2023, meeting minutes.

Member Pellerin moved, and Member Looney seconded a motion to approve the October 10, 2023, minutes. The motion passed unanimously.

5. Update on Delta Protection Commission activities – Bruce Blodgett

For DPAC, the nominations are closed for the public position. We are keeping the tribal position open and request advisory committee members to seek out a possible tribal member for the group.

On staffing – a new clerk is scheduled to begin next Tuesday at the DPC office, and a new Senior Environmental Planner should begin work in mid-January.

The NHA will be covered later in the agenda, but we are keeping things on pace to present to the National Park Service by the March 12, 2024, deadline.

We have 15 new participants in the Delta Leadership Program, which will begin seminars on January 12. Erik Vink has come back as a retired annuitant to carry out this program.

6. Update on the status of the Delta Conveyance EIR – Osha Meserve

Meserve noted the final EIR is released to the public. We expect the Department of Water Resources to certify the EIR and give notice of their final determination by the end of the month. As expected, the project looks to move forward with their preferred alternative for the tunnel. Most concerns have been dismissed or discounted and their operation plan for the tunnel is highly suspect. This operations plan was not evaluated in the Federal (EIS) process. At the end of the Water Fix proposal, there were 21 lawsuits filed to overturn that tunnel project. You can expect something similar for this project.  There is also the hurdle that it must be deemed consistent with the Delta Plan by the Delta Stewardship Council.

7. Update on levee subvention funding – Emily Papalardo

Papalardo noted that the subventions program has a long history of improving the levees of the Delta. While there were several bills in the last session of the Legislature, none made it through the process. There is some discussion to include Delta levee funding in a bond for the 2024 elections. So far, nothing has been completed as this remains a political football with funding set to dry up in June 2024.

8. Presentation on Broadband in the Delta – Russ Ryan

A short discussion on this item as the company who is working on this proposal – Equitable Access California – was not available. They are expected to attend the January meeting.

9. Update on the status of the NHA management update – Blake Roberts

An administrative draft of the full management plan is now available on the website for anyone to review. We are trying to finish edits in early January in order to release the document for public comment. Mr. Roberts covered the seven chapters that make up the management plan and encouraged the committee members to provide feedback with the idea of finishing up with the plan in time to meet the March 12 deadline. The National Park Service has been engaged since the beginning of the process to draft the management plan and has been reviewing each draft chapter.

6. Member Announcements and Next Meeting

Members announced upcoming events. Chair Swenson asked for possible meeting locations and topics for future meetings. The next meeting will take place on February 6, 2024, at a location to be determined.

7. Adjourn

Chair Swenson adjourned the meeting at 7:15 p.m.