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California Colloquium on Water: John Cain

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Uploaded on Sep 24, 2007

Confluence, Confusion, or Catastrophe: Prospects for Ending the Delta Stalemate
John Cain, Director, Restoration Programs, Natural Heritage Institute
Abstract: The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta - the source water for more than 20 million people and habitat for several endangered species- is the geographic center of a decades long-debate on how best to share water between northern and southern California. For years, the Delta debate has deadlocked on the amount of water the state and federal water projects divert out of the Bay-Delta ecosystem, but recent reports and crises have refocused the debate on a larger set of issues including levee fragility, climate change, flood plain development, upstream diversions, and new strategies for diverting water out of the Delta. Dividing up the Delta's water is only part of the problem. Delta stakeholders now realize they must also figure out how to restore habitats, sustain fragile levees, protect farmland, and clean-up polluted run-off. The Governor has convened several forums including Delta Vision and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to develop a comprehensive plan for the Delta. Although promising, these efforts must first overcome the scientific uncertainty, interest group intransigence, and lack of political leadership that doomed previous efforts. John Cain will describe the new and newly recycled proposals for re-plumbing and restoring the Bay-Delta watershed that have emerged from these forums, and discuss the enormous political, technical, and economic challenges toward breaking the stalemate that has characterized the Delta debate for the last two decades.

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