DPC Minutes 2023-07-20


Delta Protection Commission Meeting

Thursday, July 20, 2023

The Point Restaurant, 120 Marina Drive, Rio Vista, CA 94571 

1. Call to order 

Chair Burgis called the meeting to order at 5:07 p.m. and led the meeting participants in a flag salute. 

2. Welcome and roll call 

Commission Clerk Morgan Matz called the roll. Present at roll call: Chair Burgis, Vice Chair Vasquez, Commissioners Hume, Kott, Nakanishi, Slater, Agar (for Omishakin), and Birdsong (for Ross). Commissioners Ding, Steele, Paroli, Mussi, Bugsch, Vogel (for Crowfoot), ex-officio designee Udang (for Sen. Talamantes Eggman), and ex-officio Assemblymember Villapudua were absent with no alternate present. 

It was noted that Commissioner Provenza arrived at 5:11 p.m. 

It was noted that Commissioner Bugsch arrived at 5:16 p.m. 

It was noted that Lilliana Udang for Ex-Officio Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman arrived at 5:30 p.m. 

3. Public comment – Opportunity for the public to address the Commission regarding items not on the agenda 

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none. 

4. Report on Delta Stewardship Council Activities 

Chair Burgis announced that the next Delta Conservancy board meeting will take place on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, and that the next meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council will take place at the end of the month. 

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none. 

5. Commissioner comments/announcements 

Commissioner Agar expressed his regret that a current Caltrans project map could not be prepared for Commissioners before the meeting, but offered assurance that one will be ready by July 28, 2023. 

6. Consider approval of March 9, 2023 meeting minutes 

Motion: It was moved by Vice Chair Vasquez and seconded by Commissioner Kott to approve the March 9, 2023 meeting minutes; in a voice vote, the motion passed 9-0-0 with all Commissioners present voting aye. 

7. Consider appointments to Delta Protection Advisory Committee (DPAC) pursuant to Public resources Code section 29753, subdivision (a) 

Executive Director Bruce Blodgett reported that all five incumbents serving in positions eligible for appointment (Todd Bruce, Recreation; Mariah Looney, Delta Organization; Gary Mello, Agriculture; Edward Hard, Boating & Waterways; and Sam Garcia, Utilities) wished to continue their service, and recommended reappointing those incumbents in their same roles. 

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none 

Motion: It was moved by Commissioner Hume and seconded by Vice Chair Vasquez to reappoint Todd Bruce, Mariah Looney, Gary Mello, Edward Hard, and Sam Garcia to their respective DPAC positions; in a voice vote, the motion passed 9-0-0 with all Commissioners present voting aye. 

8. Receive Commission binders 

Executive Director Bruce Blodgett provided a summary explanation of the intended purpose and contents of informational binders that had been provided to all Commissioners present at the meeting, which contain numerous documents related to the Commission’s structure, membership, goals, milestone projects, current projects, and community outreach efforts, as well as the enabling legislation granting the Commission authority to carry out its work. He noted that all documents contained in the binder excluding those containing confidential personal information are available to the public either online or upon request. 

Vice Chair Vasquez asked if the Commission’s efforts to establish the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area (SSJDNHA) had created conflict with the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission with respect to Suisun Marsh. Executive Director Blodgett responded that there has been no conflict thus far. 

Commissioner Kott asked if the borders of the SSJDNHA shown in the binder are up to date. Executive Director Blodgett responded that the borders shown are up to date, and although the borders may change in the near future, a management plan for the SSJDNHA must be developed and approved before any changes are made. 

Commissioner Slater asked for clarification as to the Commission’s land use jurisdiction. Executive Director Blodgett explained that the Commission does have land use jurisdiction in the primary zone. 

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none. 

9. Receive Executive Director report 

Executive Director Bruce Blodgett indicated that staff efforts to identify appropriate meeting locations within the legal Delta will continue, and that the next Commission meeting is planned to take place in the city of Stockton. 

He then reported on the Delta Conveyance project, noting that the release of the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is expected at the end of 2023 followed by the final Environmental Impact Statement, and that Commission staff is currently searching for a consultant to assist with the Section 106 Cultural Resource Review. 

He then introduced the Commission’s new Public Information Officer, Holly Heyser, and noted that Senior Environmental Planner Kirsten Pringle had departed the Commission and her former position will be advertised soon. He pointed out that the Commission is currently projected to be under budget for the coming fiscal year, in part due to a staffing shortage. 

He then reported that the Delta Leadership Program had received the 2023 Government Innovation Award from the American Society of Public Administration’s Sacramento chapter; that the National Heritage Area Advisory Committee had approved a list of five goals for the NHA’s management plan and its next meeting is scheduled for August 3, 2023; that signs for the NHA had been installed recently on Jefferson Boulevard and Hood-Franklin Road; that plans for installation of Clean California signs are still developing; and that although Commission staff had submitted only one recent comment letter, evaluation and deliberation regarding which projects and developments warrant comment is ongoing 

Finally, he provided a brief summary of upcoming meetings and events in the Delta through September 2023 and recent community outreach opportunities taken by Commission staff. 

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none. 

10. Receive Delta As Place report 

After a brief self-introduction, Delta Watermaster Jay Ziegler first provided a presentation on the success of recent efforts to improve water use data reporting in the Delta. He reported that a collaborative effort between a number of organizations including multiple California water agencies as well as engineering firms and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had made new online water use reporting tools available to water users, 90% of whom appear to be using the new tools, and that NASA has been assisting those organizations with satellite data validating reported water usage levels. The online reporting tools can be found at www.deltaacp.com 

Commissioner Slater asked if the satellite data differentiates between changes in water measurements due to usage and those due to diversion, and Mr. Ziegler responded that the data currently does not differentiate between usage and diversion, but that a number of experiments are in process aimed at further refining the data and subsequent analysis. 

He also reported on the Delta Drought Response Pilot Program, which is a collaborative effort between Delta water agencies, state agencies, and the office of the Delta Watermaster to improve water conservation actions, water quality protection, and data collection. There are currently 33 projects in process involving 8,850 acres of land enrolled in the program, and estimated water conservation in 2022 ranged from 3,300 to 5,500 acre feet across all project areas. In 2023, the number of projects is expected to increase to 61, with 16,116 acres enrolled in water savings projects and 6,400 acres enrolled in migratory bird habitat preservation projects. 

Chair Burgis asked if Mr. Ziegler is personally satisfied with the program outcomes he had described, and Mr. Ziegler confirmed that he is. 

Vice Chair Vasquez asked for further description of water-saving measures that may be taken in upland areas, and Mr. Ziegler listed fallowing, deficit irrigation, and crop substitution as the potential strategies that are being tested; however, he explained that taking those water-saving measures within the Delta yielded disappointing results, and that it is likely more effective to implement those programs in other areas. 

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.  

11. Receive Delta Protection Advisory Committee (DPAC) report 

DPAC Chair Anna Swenson briefly introduced herself as new DPAC Chair. She then reported that at the most recent DPAC meeting, members received training on the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act and discussed issues related to levee funding. She also expressed a desire to increase public participation in DPAC business. 

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none 

12. Delta Signs presentation 

Steve White and Henry Yasui from the Sacramento County Department of Transportation delivered a presentation on progress made on the Freeport Delta Gateway Monuments project, which aims to install large monuments at primary entry points to the community of Freeport commemorating the area’s cultural and historical importance. They detailed community outreach efforts and workshops that had helped to create an appropriate design for the monuments and accompanying interpretive signs that will explain Freeport’s role in the California gold rush and subsequent cultural development in a timeline format. 

They went on to explain that they are working with local landowners and developers to choose a location for the monuments, and provided some potential locations that have already been identified. Participants in the workshop indicated that although the original concept for the project imagined monuments at both the north and south ends of Freeport, all resources should instead go toward installing only one monument at the north end. After a design is finalized and a location is determined, the project will undergo review by a structural engineer and further review for exemption or compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act before construction begins. 

Commissioner Kott asked if the monuments will specifically promote the Delta region, and Mr. White pointed out that the current design of the monuments includes the phrase, “Gateway To The Delta” featured prominently. 

Commissioner Hume suggested a change to the design that may more clearly express Freeport’s significance as a railroad waypoint than the current design. 

Commissioner Provenza asked if one of the proposed locations for the monuments is public land, and Mr. White explained that it is currently owned by KB Homes, but that discussions with the company regarding the monuments are ongoing. 

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and DPAC Chair Anna Swenson expressed her support for the project. 

13. Adjourn 

Chair Burgis adjourned the meeting at 6:29 p.m.