A reminder that the Endangered Species Act is a really lousy water management tool

Chris Austin reminds us why California’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan may look like a water management plan, but isn’t:

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is often criticized for not being comprehensive enough because it doesn’t consider other actions that could be taken such as desalination, or other statewide or regional needs such as water storage. Perhaps it’s the huge price tag or the over 40,000 pages that makes it seem like it should be more; however, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is not supposed to be statewide water plan – it is, after all, a permit application for an incidental take permit that is being submitted under federal and state endangered species regulations.

One can imagine a water management plan for ensuring supply reliability for San Joaquin valley farms and Southern California lawns, developed as a water management plan rather than a plan for avoiding jeopardy to endangered species, that might look much the same. Or one could imagine a whole bunch of different possible solutions cropping up if this wasn’t an ESA-driven planning effort. But we have to imagine, because Chris is right here in pointing out what I think is one of the BDCP’s great shortcomings. It’s not a water management plan.