Governor Newsom’s drought emergency declaration is a direct consequence of the draining of Shasta, Folsom, and Oroville reservoirs by the Central Valley Project and State Water Project to export water from the Delta. Emergency operation of these major reservoirs will be a disaster for the Delta ecosystem, and will also have severe impacts on Delta water quality, migratory waterfowl, and Sacramento Valley and Delta agriculture.

People say, “at the start of every disaster movie there is a scientist being ignored.” For the past 15 years, modelers studying climate change impacts on the CVP and SWP have repeatedly warned of the need to modify reservoir operations to deal with climate change.

One major early study was associated with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan / WaterFix project. In 2009 and 2010, Francis Chung, DWR’s Chief of Bay Delta Modelling, oversaw studies of Central Valley Project and State Water Project operations with climate change, with and without the twin tunnels. Chung presented the results at the 2010 California Water and Environmental Modelling Forum at Asilomar. The modeling showed that climate change would cause a major increase in months with dead storage in north of Delta reservoirs, and even more with the twin tunnels project, new north of Delta storage and increased South of Delta groundwater banking.

Number of months of dead storage in repeat of 1922-2003 hydrology


D1641 — Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan regulatory requirements

(+) Wanger with CC —  2008 Obama biological opinion with climate change

(+) BDCP with CC — Twin tunnels with climate change

(+) NODOS with CC —  North of Delta offstream storage with climate change

(+) SOD GW Bank with CC — South of Delta groundwater bank with climate change


Chung concluded, “Results appear to be unsustainable. The relative frequency of dead storage conditions in upstream reservoirs indicate that significantly modified operations will be required with climate changed conditions.” Chung made the following recommendations:

DWR never has developed a reoperation strategy to mitigate the effects of climate change on north of Delta reservoirs. As a result, the draining of Shasta, Folsom, and Oroville reservoirs was a major issue in the State Water Resources Control Board’s hearing on the twin tunnels project. There was extensive testimony by experts on the need to develop better drought operations.

The WaterFix hearing ended, and the Water Board never formally considered the expert testimony. The disastrous consequences of ignoring the recommendations of Chung and other engineers studying the impacts of climate change on the CVP and SWP are now becoming clear.


Francis Chung, PhD, P.E. An Assessment of CVP-SWP System Performance Under Alternative Delta Regulations, Infrastructure and Climate Change Scenarios Using CalSim II, California Water and Environmental Modeling Forum, Feb. 22, 2010.

California Water Research, Delta Plan Comments: Water Supply Reliability, 2012.

Post updated to add Chung’s results.

At the Delta Independent Science Board’s May 4, 2021 meeting, the board members will discuss potentially restructuring thr Delta Independent Science Board’s scientific reviews. Due to a lack of funding for board members to do the scientific reviews themselves, the board is considering changing the structure of reviews to rely more on staff.

As mandated by the Delta Reform Act, the Delta Independent Science Board is a standing board of 10 nationally or internationally prominent scientists “with appropriate expertise to evaluate the broad range of scientific programs that support adaptive management of the Delta.”  The board is mandated to “provide oversight of the scientific research, monitoring, and assessment programs that support adaptive management of the Delta through periodic reviews of each of those programs that shall be scheduled to ensure that all Delta scientific research, monitoring, and assessment programs are reviewed at least once every four years.” (Water Code section 85280(a)(3).)

In fall of 2020, the Delta Stewardship Council changed the compensation of Delta ISB members to a per diem salary of $100 per day. Delta ISB members were previously compensated by contracts which paid typical academic consulting rates, so this was a major loss of funding.

Since that time, meeting notices by the Delta ISB have stated that the agenda and activities of the Delta ISB have been curtailed to a much lower level, and that “[s]ubstantial delays in many of the Delta ISB’s anticipated and legislatively mandated reviews, products, and activities are expected.”

The proposal for new approaches to reviews is here.  It states:

New Possible Approaches

Agency science program reviews (A normal agency practice, where every major program is reviewed every four years). This will include State agencies (Department of Water Resources, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, State Water Resources Control Board, Delta Stewardship Council, etc.), and Federal agencies (United States Bureau of Reclamation, United State Geological Survey, Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency, etc.)? The Delta ISB can review a certain number of agencies each year with a standard template. Approach can be less-time intensive for Delta ISB members if significantly more staff time is used to gather documents, arrange panel presentations, organize interviews, administer a standard questionnaire, etc. Approach would be to ask agencies for their science goals and plans and review the science and make recommendations. An advantage of this approach is that it uses well-established protocols and the audience is clearly defined.

Problem-focused reviews (hydrodynamics and water quality modeling, sea level rise, review of agency science review processes, etc.)

Other types of reviews?

Mix of types

A major concern about the new approaches is that the Delta ISB currently has no staff that report directly to the board. A December 2020 request by the Delta ISB Chair to the Delta Stewardship Council for senior staff for the Delta ISB was refused.

The Delta Reform Act mandates that the Delta ISB members “shall not be directly affiliated with a program or agency subject to the review activities of the Delta Independent Science Board.”  This should apply to staff who assist the Delta ISB with reviews as well.

The Delta Reform Act created the Delta ISB not only to exercise oversight of the Delta Science Program, but also to ensure that the Delta Science Program provides “the best possible unbiased scientific information to inform water and environmental decisionmaking in the Delta.” The reviews by the Delta ISB should continue to be independent of the Delta Stewardship Council’s collaborative Delta Science Program.




Posted by: Deirdre Des Jardins | May 1, 2021

The “greedy” strategy for SWP and CVP reservoir operations

Current operations of the State Water Project and Central Valley Project reservoirs in the Sacramento Valley are an example of a greedy strategy.[1] Under the greedy strategy, the system operators export as much water as possible in any given year. The strategy results in maximum water deliveries in a given year, but with the risk of catastrophic shortages in droughts.

The risks of the greedy strategy have little impact on Southern California urban water agencies who have developed millions of acre-feet of South of Delta storage. But the strategy does create major shortages and costs for South of Delta agricultural water users who don’t have multiyear storage.

The greedy strategy also has devastating impacts on in-basin beneficial uses. The greedy strategy was disastrous for salmon and native fish in the 2012-2016 drought, and will be disastrous again in 2021. Draining Northern California reservoirs also impacts all other beneficial uses in the Sacramento Valley and the Delta, including agricultural and urban water users, wildlife refuges, and water quality in the Delta.

Metropolitan Water District, storage, April 26, 2021 [2]

The greedy strategy is contrary to studies of optimal reservoir management for drought and climate change. Aris Georgakakos has studied forecast-informed reservoir operations for the SWP and CVP.  While he’s best known for the INFORM system for operating the SWP and CVP for floods, he’s also studied operating reservoirs for droughts. Georgakakos’ studies have pointed to the need for major changes in SWP and CVP operations for climate change. In 2012, Georgakakos et. al. wrote:

The assessments show that the current policy, which is tuned to the historical hydrologic regime, is unable to cope effectively with the more variable future climate. As a result, the water supply, energy, and environmental water uses cannot be effectively satisfied during future droughts, exposing the system to higher vulnerabilities and risks. By contrast, the adaptive policy maintains similar performance under both hydrologic scenarios, suggesting that adaptive management constitutes an effective mitigation measure to climate change. [3]


1, Moore, J. Khim, and E. Ross, Greedy Algorithms, Math & Science Wiki,

2. Metropolitan Water District, Water Supply Conditions Report, April 26, 2021

3. A.P. Georgakakos, H. Yao, M. Kistenmacher, K.P. Georgakakos, N.E. Graham, F.-Y. Cheng, C. Spencer, E. Shamir, Value of adaptive water resources management in Northern California under climatic variability and change: Reservoir management, Journal of Hydrology, Volumes 412–413, 2012, Pages 34-46, ISSN 0022-1694

Posted by: Deirdre Des Jardins | April 26, 2021

The State Water Project was originally designed for a six year drought

A 1983 Bulletin by the Department of Water Resources (Bulletin 160-83) [1] documents that Oroville reservoir was designed to provide long-term carryover storage and reliable water deliveries in case of a repeat of the 1928-1934 drought. The Department of Water Resources  proposed in the same Bulletin 160-83 to change State Water Project operations to take greater risks with carryover storage to increase total water deliveries. The operational change was made on the basis of a long forgotten study which estimated that the 1928-1934 drought only had a probability of recurrence of 1 in 200-400 years. Bulletin 160-83 states:

A few major reservoirs were developed for long-term carryover storage (water stored for use over several dry years), which means that storage capacity is several times the firm annual yield. Examples of such facilities are Shasta, Oroville, Berryessa, and New Melones.  (p. 23)

Bulletin 160-83 further states:

Supply Dependability and Risk

The thrust in California water development over the past few decades has been to increase water supplies to match needs, and in many areas, to increase the dependability of supplies. Much attention has been given to this by the SWP and the CVP which were designed to withstand reoccurrence of the 1928-1934 drought. Projects, facilities, and programs of other agencies have similar built-in-risks. But uncertainty regarding the capability of increasing developed supplies over the next several decades may justify and in fact may require taking greater risks in delivering water to customers.

Selection of the 1928-1934 drought to evaluate yield was not based on the relation of drought frequency to cost of facilities. Rather, it was based on the fact that both the CVP and SWP received popular support following the 1928-1934 drought, and Californians wanted the projects to provide essentially a full supply during the entire drought, regardless of its frequency of reoccurrence. Of course, during normal and above-normal years, projects can deliver much more water than is defined as yield under this criterion  Surface water projects of other agencies use different yield-determining dry periods, but the concept is the same. This operational procedure works well where adequate water supplies are already developed to meet existing and future uses. Unfortunately, the State’s water uses are outpacing the rate at which increased supplies are being added.

Some water projects would take greater risks by delivering a higher annual supply, leaving less carryover storage in case of drought. This would allow growing needs to be met in normal years. While the final answer lies in what nature will actually provide, there is a good argument that, in the present era of uncertainty regarding future water development, given the frequency of reoccurrence of droughts, existing facilities may be operating in a more conservative manner than is necessary. The 1928-1934 dry period is estimated to have a reoccurrence of one in 200 to 400 years. However, such dry periods could occur in successive decades. Nevertheless, with such a small frequency probability, it may be that projects should take a greater risk and deliver a higher annual average supply.   (p. 255-256, underlining added)

Drought Recurrence

The estimate that the 1928-1934 drought has a recurrence of 1 in 200-400 years is not supported by the Sacramento Valley hydrology reconstructed from tree rings by David Meko. Six year droughts of similar severity occurred in the 1840s and 1780s. And four years after Bulletin 160-83, the 1987-92 drought began.

Bulletin 160-83 did not disclose what specific changes DWR made to carryover storage targets. The changes were shown in an obscure 1988 article in the academic journal Climatic Change by William E. Riebsame, entitled “Adjusting Water Resources Management to Climate Change”[2]  Riebsame cited an unpublished 1985 report by DWR, “Evaluation of the State Water Project Rule Curve Procedure,” and an unpublished report in 1988, “State Water Project Rule Curve for 1988.”  The new and old rule curves for total end of year system storage (including Oroville and San Luis Reservoir) was reproduced by Riebsame on p. 84:

Graph of storage going to dead pool

If DWR had continued operations under the 1977 rule curve, water stored in Oroville and San Luis reservoirs would be conserved to provide to provide water supply reliability. The low storage in Oroville reservoir in the 2012-2016 drought and again this year appears to be a consequence of this fundamental change in operational strategy for the State Water Project in the early 1980s.  The current SWP operational strategy maximizes deliveries, but at the cost of loss of reliability in water exports, and a loss of reliability for in-basin uses.


[1] Department of Water Resources, Bulletin 160-83. Available at

[2] Riebsame, W.E., Adjusting Water Resources Management to Climate Change, Climatic Change, 13 (1988) 69-97. Available at


Posted by: Deirdre Des Jardins | April 19, 2021

On the Delta Independent Science Board and Inconvenient Truths

Remarks by Deirdre Des Jardins at the April 16, 2021 Delta Independent Science Board meeting.

One of the most valuable contributions of the Delta Independent Science Board is when they speak inconvenient truths.

One example of this is the BDCP / WaterFix project, which is a “hard” adaptation to climate change.  The locations for the North Delta intakes were largely decided in conceptual engineering work done between 2008 and 2010, when the high estimate of sea level rise by 2100 was about one meter, with an extreme value of 55 inches. But estimates of high sea level rise have since doubled, with a current high estimate of two meters of sea level rise, and an extreme value of 10 feet – 120 inches.

Delta flooding

Delta flooding with 1.5 m sea level rise (1 in 100 yr)                Source: CalAdapt

It is an inconvenient truth that the locations for the intakes chosen for one meter of sea level rise may have significant issues with salinity intrusion with 2 meters of sea level rise, especially if none of the Delta levees are raised. Here the reviews of the project by the Delta Independent Science Board were invaluable.

In a 2014 review of the BDCP project EIR-EIS, the DISB wrote:

The potential direct effects of climate change and sea-level rise on the effectiveness of actions, including operations involving new water conveyance facilities, are not adequately considered. […] Similar comments could be made about the treatments of other disrupting factors, such as floods, levee failures, earthquakes, or invasive species, any of which could profoundly alter the desired outcomes of BDCP actions. […] If the effects of major environmental disruptions such as climate change, sea-level rise, levee breaches, floods, and the like are not considered, however, one must [not] assume that the actions will have the stated outcomes. We believe this is dangerously unrealistic.

In October 2015, DISB member Vince Resh summarized the review of the WaterFix project EIR-EIS:

In general, we felt that the revised EIR-EIS provides only the information and analysis that are legally required for such documentation. To the Delta Independent Science Board, this falls far short of what is needed to assess the project’s effectiveness, to determine how uncertainties will be addressed, to determine how unanticipated events will be dealt with, or to determine how the project outcomes will be affected by climate change and sea level rise.

Delta Stewardship Council Vice Chair Phil Isenberg recalled the Department of Water Resources’ dismissal of the DISB comments:

I thought it was a cavalier dismissal of the science board comments, kind of a ‘pat on the head’ and neither politically wise nor governmentally sound, since it is consistency with the Delta Plan that a covered action will be based upon in front of this Council.

In 2018, the Delta Stewardship Council staff draft on the WaterFix project’s consistency with the Delta plan found that the Department of Water Resources failed to use best available science on sea level rise in evaluating the project.

Politically, this was a huge inconvenient truth. But a $16 billion project that is supposed to provide climate resilience for the water supply for 27 million people had major risks that were not adequately addressed. This was a time when the review by the Delta Independent Science Board was enormously important.

Posted by: Deirdre Des Jardins | April 12, 2021

Delta Tunnel: Geologist takes leadership of engineering and design

In March 2021, Kathryn Mallon resigned as Executive Director of the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA.) The resignation came after labor negotiations with Metropolitan Water District’s representatives on the DCA Board. The official story is that Mallon decided to seek other opportunities after finishing the initial engineering and design work for the project. However, one of the initial engineering designs for the project is not yet finished.

In February 2021 Mallon reported submitting the final Engineering Product Reports for the Central and Eastern Corridor options to the Department of Water Resources. Deliverables included “engineering drawings, GIS mapbooks, and all associated technical memoranda.” In March 2021, Mallon reported submitting the Draft Engineering Product Report for the Bethany Reservoir Alternative to DWR. The final Engineering Product Report for the Bethany Reservoir Alternative was scheduled to be finished at the end of April 2021, but it is unclear if that schedule will be met after the change in leadership.

Graham Bradner is taking over from Mallon as the new Interim DCA Executive Director. Bradner has been working for the project as a geologist under contract from GEI consultants. Bradner is a good choice for Interim ED, both to lead the geotechnical explorations this Spring and to lead the DCA’s discussions with the US Army Corps of Engineers about the Section 408 permit for modifying the levees for the two intakes in the North Delta. These are Bradner’s qualifications, from the DCA’s August 2020 Leadership Spotlight:

Levee Evaluation, Design, and Construction

  • Embankment Dam & Spillway Assessments
  • Seepage/Slope Stability Analyses
  • Flood Planning Studies
  • Groundwater Studies
  • Production Well Design and Construction

Bradner’s main experience is with levees, according to the same document:

  • Flood Planning and Evaluations
  • Design and Construction

Bradner was also involved in DWR’s Urban and Non-Urban Levee Evaluations Program, the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan & Update, and the Small Communities Flood Risk Reduction Program.

However, Bradner does not have Mallon’s experience with leading huge water infrastructure and tunnel projects. Bradner’s Executive Director’s report for the April 2021 Board Meeting is much shorter and less comprehensive than Mallon’s have been. The brief report could indicate getting up to speed on the engineering management and reporting software.

Bradner is facing significant challenges with reduced funding for the DCA’s engineering work. He is proposing a budget of $21.5 million for FY 2021-22, a 20% reduction over the $27 million in the DCA’s current FY 2020-21 budget, and a 37% reduction over the original FY 2020-21 budget.

In 2020, there were six vacancies on the Delta Independent Science Board, created by term limits for five members, and one member stepping down. The Delta Stewardship  Council ran a nationwide search in 2019 to recruit new members. Candidates were required to be “internationally prominent scientists with appropriate expertise” and were promised to be “paid part-time” for their work.

Then the COVID crisis hit the state budget. On March 24, 2020, Department of Finance Director Keely Bosler sent a letter to all Department Directors, citing a “severe drop in economic activity, with corresponding negative effects on anticipated revenues.” Bosler’s letter stated that “agencies and departments should have no expectation of full funding for either new or existing proposals and adjustments.”

On April 17, 2020, the Delta Stewardship Council staff sent a request to CAL HR to create exempt employee positions for the Delta Independent Science Board. The request was for positions that paid for up to 20 hours of work a month for each member, or up to 2,400 hours a year for all 10 board members. The existing contracts with ISB members paid for up to 3,400 hours of work a year, so the request was a reduction of about 30% in the authorized hours.

CAL HR then informed the Delta Stewardship Council that the new positions could only pay $100 per day. The Delta Stewardship Council’s Executive Director explained the legal basis in response to our inquiries:

Government Code section 11564.5 states that the rate for board members “shall be established at one hundred dollars ($100) per day unless a higher rate is provided by statute….”  Because the Delta Reform Act does not provide a specific compensation amount for the Delta ISB, the Delta ISB is compensated at $100 per diem.

The change in compensation was not reported at a meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council. Six scientists were selected for the Delta Independent Science Board and nominated for appointment in June 2020. The Lead Scientist’s nominating memo only stated,

Funding for the Delta ISB is part of the current Delta Science Program budget. Delta ISB members are compensated for their time and travel. No additional funding is required for this recruitment.

Meeting notices show that all Delta ISB members began serving as unpaid volunteers, starting July 1, 2020. The six new members took their seats in September 2020 and were informed that there were problems with their promised compensation. They only began to get the $100 per diem compensation around December 2020.

The Delta Stewardship Council’s meeting agendas for FY 2019-20 included quarterly budget reports. We could find no budget reports provided with the meeting agendas in Fiscal Year 2020-21.

Although the Delta Stewardship Council staff could request that the legislature amend the Delta Reform Act to provide appropriate compensation for the Delta Independent Science Board members for FY 2021-22, no such request has been made.

It is currently unclear if the change in compensation status in FY 2020-21 has resulted in a continuing loss of funding for the Delta Independent Science Board.

Posted by: Deirdre Des Jardins | March 30, 2021

Delta Independent Science Board defunded

The Delta Independent Science Board’s scientific reviews have essentially been defunded for Fiscal Year 2020-21, and the future of the Independent Science Board itself is threatened.

The Independent Science Board is part of the Delta Science Program, which was created in 2000 to “bring world-class science” to all elements of the CALFED program. The Delta Reform Act of 2009 continued the Delta Science Program, and mandated that Delta Independent Science Board members be “nationally or internationally prominent scientists with appropriate expertise to evaluate the broad range of scientific programs that support adaptive management of the Delta.”

In 2010, the legislature passed SB 1450, which authorized the Delta Stewardship Council to issue contracts to pay for scientific review and other services. Senator Joe Simitian explained the reason in his letter to Governor Schwarzenegger:

SBX7 1 […] established the Council and delineated its powers and duties. Primary among these was the right to contract for certain services, as a means to limit the size of the new bureaucracy

From 2017-2020, scientific review by the 10 Delta Independent Science Board members was funded by contracts which paid typical academic consulting rates. But for Fiscal Year 2020-21, the Delta Stewardship Council did not issue any new or renewed contracts to pay the DISB members.

The reasons for this bureaucratic decision are unclear. But after AB 5 was passed in 2019, the Delta Stewardship Council staff apparently initiated a review of the DISB contracts. The Delta Stewardship Council’s attorney reportedly found that the California Constitution suggested that the DISB members should be salaried employees of the state. While no legal memo has been published, Article VII, section 4(d) of the California Constitution does state: “[t]he following are exempt from civil service: […] (d) Members of boards and commissions.”

Since the legislature never considered funding the Delta ISB through salaries, there is no salary mandated for Delta ISB members in the Government Code, as is done for members of the State Water Resources Control Board, the California Air Resources Board, and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board. So for Fiscal Year 2020-21, the Delta Stewardship Council created salaried positions for Delta ISB members at $100 per day. After careful review, attorney Gwynne Pratt’s opinion is that there was no legal basis for this change in compensation, and that the legislature clearly intended that the Delta ISB members be paid through contracts.

The Delta ISB Chair, Stephen Brandt, explained at the March 3, 2020 DISB meeting that scientific review by DISB members has essentially been defunded:

One of the things that I think that you may have noticed that is in all of our recent agenda items, is something called the curtailment of the Delta Board’s science activities.  And I’m going to explain that for those folks who may not be in the loop so to speak.  The Board is compensated for its time.  The nature of that compensation was pretty consistent for 10 years.  Starting in July, this past year, the level of compensation and the way compensation was done has dramatically decreased the level of compensation.

To put it in perspective, what we would normally do prior to this last July. We would have regular board meetings that often would take one to two full days. We would meet for a full 8 hour day, and then a second 8 hour day.  And what that would allow us to do is to really get in-depth discussions, and lengthy discussions of scientific issues. We would bring in panels, we would have debates. We would fully explore and immerse ourselves in these issues over half a day for an issue, and also have a lot of opportunities for public comment on these issues.

The compensation that we are now getting has been reduced – that compensation for an 8 hour day — by 94%. And if we work a full 8 hour day, we are making less than minimum wage for California state.

And the same is implied, that as most of you know, when you are doing a lot of our work, in fact about slightly less than half the work that we do is done by writing and doing research and deeply exploring scientific topics so that we can do a comprehensive review and write reviews on that. That’s done offline, it’s as most of you know that when you do that kind of work, it takes concentrated effort.  It can’t be done 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there. It takes 3, 4, 5, 8 hours of concerted effort to make significant progress on these topics. What that effectively has done with our current compensation is that effectively Board members are volunteering much of their time.

Chair Stephen Brandt also expressed concern that members of the DISB will quit if the situation is not resolved soon, and stated “I am very concerned about the future of the Independent Science Board.” The past Chair, Jay Lund, stated that he was also very concerned.

When asked to comment for this article, the Delta Stewardship Council Chair, Susan Tatayon, stated “I value the DISB’s important contributions to assuring the best available science is used to guide decisions about managing the Delta’s natural resources. In addition, I also value the contributions of our legal team and trust the advice from this team. At the end of day, the Council must abide by all applicable laws, and we depend on our legal team’s advice in order to do so.”

Related posts:

“No legal basis” for 90% pay reduction for Delta Independent Science Board members

California Water Research calls for formal consideration of Delta Independent Science Board compensation

Did COVID budget cuts get allocated to the Delta Independent Science Board?

This post was updated on June 14, 2021. Attorney Gwynne Pratt contributed to the research and analysis for this post.

On February 18, 2021 the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (“DCA”) adopted new bylaws which allow the Executive Director to be a “member entity” staff person.

On March 9, 2021, the DCA met in closed session to consider employment of the current Executive Director, Kathryn Mallon. Mallon is working under a 5 year contract signed in January 2019, but the contract terms allow termination with 60 days notice.

The “member entity” staff person with the qualifications to be Executive Director is John Bednarski, the Chief Engineer for Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD.) Bednarski has been leading MWD’s work on the conceptual design of the Delta tunnel. Bednarski previously led MWD’s work on the twin tunnels project.

If MWD did appoint a staff person as the Executive Director for the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority, it would give MWD direct control of the design and permitting for the tunnel, as well as temporary entry permits and real estate acquisition for the project.  MWD would also directly oversee discussions with Delta residents on a Community Benefits agreement.

The Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority is a Joint Powers Authority originally formed in 2018 by the State Water Project contractors to design and construct the twin tunnels project. The DCA exercises the powers of the California Department of Water Resources through a Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement, also signed in 2018.

The Department of Water Resources has authorized the DCA to continue work on the single tunnel project through a series of amendments to the Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement (JEPA.) In June 2019, an amendment to the JEPA authorized the DCA to acquire property for the Delta tunnel project when any feature of the project is at 60% design.

Under the new bylaws, the DCA Executive Director will execute all property purchases for the DCA, oversee purchased properties, and also oversee the DCA’s public participation opportunities, including the DCA’s current discussions with Delta stakeholders about a Community Benefits agreement.

The DCA originally signed 7 year contracts in 2018 for survey, mapping, title, right of way, and real estate services for the twin tunnels project.  Work under these contracts has continued for the single tunnel project, with a total of $700,000 budgeted for Fiscal Year 2020-21.


The new Board of Directors for the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (“DCA”) has called a special meeting for Tuesday, March 9th from 3-5 pm.  The closed session agenda lists the following items with regard to the DCA’s Executive Director, Kathryn Mallon:

(a) Public Employee Performance Evaluation

(b) Public Employment

(c) Conference with Labor Negotiators
Agency Designated Representatives: Richard Atwater, Shane Chapman, and Josh Nelson

Richard Atwater and Shane Chapman are the Director and Alternate Director appointed by Metropolitan Water District to the DCA Board of Directors..

Richard Atwater is on the Board of the Metropolitan Water District, and serves as Chair of MWD’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee.

Shane Chapman is the Assistant General Manager/Chief Administrative Officer of the Metropolitan Water District.

Kathryn Mallon was appointed by the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority to lead the twin tunnels effort in January 2019, and continued to lead the planning for the single tunnel in May 2019. According to the DCA website, Mallon is a civil engineer who previously served as “the Deputy Commissioner for the City of New York’s Bureau of Engineering Design and Construction where she managed a staff of 500 engineers, scientists and other professionals responsible for delivery of the City’s 10-year, $14 billion water and wastewater capital construction program which included major tunnels, treatment works, pump stations, pipelines, and bridges.”

Mallon has kept the single tunnel project largely on schedule in spite of the COVID pandemic and reductions in funding. She also continued the DCA’s Stakeholder Engagement Committee meetings going during the pandemic, over the objections of the public members, stating that the schedule was “not moving.”

The DCA previously held two special meetings to consider a performance evaluation of Mallon on July 27 and August 5, 2020.

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