[Federal Register: April 15, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 73)]
[Page 20326-20329]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Bureau of Reclamation

Fish and Wildlife Service


National Marine Fisheries Service; Bay Delta Conservation Plan 
for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California

AGENCIES: Bureau of Reclamation, Interior; Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Interior; National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact 
statement/environmental impact report (EIS/EIR) and notice of public 
scoping meetings.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 
1969, as amended, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), the Fish and 
Wildlife Service (FWS), and the National Marine Fisheries Service 
(NMFS) intend to serve as co-lead agencies in the preparation of a 
joint EIS/EIR for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). The 
California Department of Water Resources (DWR) will serve as the lead 
agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 
Reclamation will serve as the administrative lead for all actions 
related to this Federal Register Notice.
    The BDCP is a conservation plan being prepared to meet the 
requirements of the Federal Endangered Species Act (FESA), the 
California Endangered Species Act (CESA), and the State of California's 
Natural Communities Conservation Planning Act (NCCPA). DWR and State 
and Federal water contractors intend to apply for FESA and CESA 
incidental take permits (ITP) for water operations and management 
activities in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. These incidental take 
authorizations would allow the incidental take of threatened and 
endangered species resulting from covered activities and conservation 
measures that will be identified through the planning process including 
those associated with water operations of the Federal Central Valley 
Project (CVP), as operated by Reclamation, the California State Water 
Project (SWP), as operated by DWR, as well as operations of certain 
Mirant Delta LLC (Mirant Delta) power plants. Additionally, the BDCP 
will, if feasible, be used as the basis for FESA compliance by 
Reclamation, including compliance with Section 7 of FESA in 
coordination with FWS and NMFS. Ultimately, the BDCP is intended to 
secure authorizations that would allow projects that restore and 
protect water supply and reliability, water quality, and ecosystem 
health to proceed within a stable regulatory framework.
    On January 24, 2008, FWS and NMFS issued a NOI to conduct public 
scoping and prepare an EIR/EIS regarding the BDCP for the Sacramento-
San Joaquin Delta, California (73 FR 4178). As the BDCP effort has 
progressed, Reclamation has determined it has a substantive interest in 
the development and ultimate implementation of the BDCP. Specifically, 
Reclamation seeks to improve water supply reliability for its Federal 
water contractors, while meeting its FESA obligations. Environmental 
constraints, including measures to protect endangered species in the 
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, impair that water supply reliability. The 
BDCP will recommend actions and conservation measures for 
implementation to improve both environmental conditions in the Delta 
and water supply reliability. Reclamation expects the recommended 
actions and conservation measures to include activities that are within 
Reclamation's responsibilities. The NOI is, therefore, being reissued 
to include Reclamation as a co-lead agency, update the status of the 
BDCP planning process, correct an error in the January 24, 2008, NOI, 
and to provide notice of scoping meetings. As the Federal lead agencies 
continue to refine the purpose and need for the project, additional 
public notices regarding scoping will be issued and additional scoping 
meetings will be held.

DATES: Ten public scoping meetings will be held at various times and 
locations throughout California. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section 
for public scoping meeting dates.
    Written comments on the scope of the BDCP or issues to be addressed 
in the EIS/EIR must be received no later than May 30, 2008.
    The scoping period on the initial Notice of Intent published 
jointly by FWS and NMFS on January 24, 2008 (73 FR 4178), is scheduled 
to close on March 24, 2008. Comments submitted under that NOI need not 
be resubmitted, as all comments will be consolidated and incorporated 
under this NOI for review and response by the co-lead agencies (i.e., 
Reclamation, FWS, and NMFS).

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Patti Idlof, Bureau of Reclamation, 
2800 Cottage Way, MP-150, Sacramento, CA 95825, e-mail to 
pidlof@mp.usbr.gov, or fax to (916) 978-5055.
    See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for public scoping meeting 

Specialist, Reclamation, at the above address or 916-978-5056; Lori 
Rinek, FWS, 916-414-6600; or Rosalie del Rosario, NMFS, 916-930-3600.


Public Scoping Meeting Dates

    Public scoping meetings will be held on the following dates and 
     Monday, April 28, 2008, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sacramento, CA.
     Tuesday, April 29, 2008, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Chico, CA.
     Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Clarksburg, 
     Monday, May 5, 2008, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Stockton, CA.
     Tuesday, May 6, 2008, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., San Jose, CA.
     Wednesday, May 7, 2008, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Los Banos, CA
     Thursday, May 8, 2008, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Los Angeles, CA
     Monday, May 12, 2008, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., San Diego, CA
     Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fresno, CA
     Wednesday, May 14, 2008, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Bakersfield, 

Public Scoping Meeting Addresses

    Public scoping meetings will be held at the following locations:
     Sacramento--California Resources Building Auditorium, 1416 
Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 95816.
     Chico--Chico Masonic Family Center, 1110 West East Avenue, 
Chico, CA 95926.
     Clarksburg--Clarksburg Middle School, 52870 Netherlands, 
Clarksburg, CA 95612.
     Stockton--San Joaquin Farm Bureau, 3290 North AdArt Road, 
Stockton, CA 95215.
     San Jose--Santa Clara Valley Water District, 5700 Almaden 
Expressway, San Jose, CA 95118.
     Los Banos--City of Los Banos, Public Services Department 
Main Office
    Senior Center--Miller & Lux Building, 830 6th Street, Los Banos, CA 
     Los Angeles--Junipero Serra State Office Building, 320 
West Fourth, Carmel Room 225, Los Angeles, CA 90013.

[[Page 20327]]

     San Diego--Marina Village Conference Center, 1936 Quivira 
Way, Starboard Room, San Diego, CA 92109.
     Fresno--Four Points-Fresno, 3737 North Blackstone, Fresno, 
CA 93726.
     Bakersfield--Board of Supervisors Chambers, 1115 Truxtun 
Avenue, First Floor, Bakersfield, CA 93301.

Modification to January 24, 2008, NOI published by FWS and NMFS

    The NOI dated January 24, 2008 (73FR4178) erroneously identified 
Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) as a Potentially Regulated Entity 
(PRE). CCWD is a participant in the process, but has not yet and may 
not become a PRE.

Background Information

    The BDCP is being prepared through a collaboration of State, 
Federal, and local water agencies, and Mirant Delta, an electric power 
generating facility located in West Pittsburg, California in Contra 
Costa County, under: (1) Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the FESA of 1973, as 
amended, and (2) the NCCPA, California Fish and Game Code, Section 2800 
et. seq., or Fish and Game Code Section 2081 of CESA. The BDCP is 
intended to provide (1) Reclamation the ability to obtain a Biological 
Opinion and incidental take statements (ITS) pursuant to Section 7 of 
FESA and (2) the basis for the DWR and State and Federal water 
contractors to apply for ITPs pursuant to Section 10 of FESA and 
California Fish and Game Code Section 2835 or 2081 for implementation 
of the BDCP.
    DWR and Reclamation, along with the Metropolitan Water District of 
Southern California (MWD), the Kern County Water Agency (KCWA), the 
Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD), Alameda County Flood Control 
and Water Conservation District, Zone 7 Water Agency (Zone 7), the San 
Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA), the Westlands Water 
District (WWD), and Mirant Delta (known collectively as the Potentially 
Regulated Entities or PREs) are currently preparing the BDCP for 
existing and proposed covered activities within the Statutory Delta. 
Some of the elements of the BDCP will complement the actions identified 
in the State of California's Delta Vision process.
    It is the goal of the PREs that the BDCP follow the processes that 
    1. The requirements of Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the FESA for the non-
federal PREs and result in the issuance of ITPs from the FWS and NMFS 
to those PREs;
    2. The requirements of an ITP under the California fish and 
wildlife protection laws, either pursuant to Section 2835 or Section 
2081, resulting in take authority under the Fish and Game Code; and
    3. The requirements of the Section 7 consultation process under the 
FESA, resulting in the issuance of Biological Opinions, and ITSs, from 
the NMFS and FWS on specific activities of certain members of the PREs.
    The planning efforts for the BDCP are in the preliminary stages. 
However, the collective goals of the PREs will help form the purpose 
and need statement for the project as required by NEPA and the project 
objective as required by CEQA. Formal preparation of a draft EIS/EIR 
will commence when the planning efforts progress further in the coming 
months. The BDCP is being prepared with the cooperation of the FWS, 
NMFS, California Resources Agency, California Department of Fish and 
Game (CDFG), the PREs, and various stakeholders, including The Nature 
Conservancy, Environmental Defense, Defenders of Wildlife, the 
California Farm Bureau, the Natural Heritage Institute, American 
Rivers, Contra Costa Water District, and The Bay Institute. These 
organizations are members of the Steering Committee, which is helping 
to guide preparation of the BDCP. The regulatory agencies, FWS, NMFS, 
and CDFG are participating in the Steering Committee to provide 
technical input and guidance in support of the Steering Committee's 
efforts to complete the BDCP. Other applicants, co-applicants, or 
beneficiaries of an ITP, referred to as PREs, may be identified during 
the planning process.
    The participants are undertaking these planning efforts pursuant 
to: (1) The Planning Agreement that was signed October, 2006, and 
amended April, 2007, to guide development of the BDCP and (2) the 
``Points of Agreement for Continuing into the Planning Process'' dated 
November 16, 2007 (see Resources Agency Web site, http://
resources.ca.gov/bdcp/ for these agreements). The Points of Agreement 
document provides a summary of the BDCP planning process to date, along 
with future direction and procedures. The website provides access to 
documentation of the planning process, and a schedule of past and 
future planning activities.

BDCP Description

    The BDCP will have several core purposes: Habitat restoration and 
enhancement to increase the quality and quantity of habitat in the 
Delta; other conservation actions to help address a number of stressors 
on covered species; conveyance facilities to enhance operational 
flexibility and water supply reliability while providing greater 
opportunities for habitat improvements and fishery conservation; water 
operations and management actions to achieve conservation and water 
supply goals; and a comprehensive monitoring, assessment, and adaptive 
management program guided by independent scientific input. Additional 
core purposes of the BDCP are to provide for the conservation of 
covered species within the planning area; to protect and restore 
certain aquatic, riparian, and associated terrestrial natural 
communities that support these covered species; and to provide for and 
restore water quality, water supplies, and ecosystem health within a 
stable regulatory framework. The EIS/EIR will evaluate the effects of 
implementing the BDCP, conveyance alternatives, and power line 
alignments, other nonstructural alternatives, and describe the permits 
necessary for BDCP implementation.
    The BDCP will likely consist of several major elements, including 
new capital improvements to the water supply conveyance system, a 
restoration program for important habitats within and adjacent to the 
Delta in order to improve the ecological productivity and 
sustainability of the Delta, and monitoring and adaptive management for 
the restoration program. The plan will also likely include operational 
improvements for the water supply system in the near-term and for the 
long-term once any capital improvements have been completed and are 

Covered Activities

    The BDCP covered activities may include, but are not limited to, 
existing or new activities related to:
     Existing Delta conveyance elements and operations of the 
CVP and SWP;
     New Delta conveyance facilities (including power line 
alignments) and operations of the CVP and SWP generally described in 
the BDCP November 2007 Points of Agreement;
     Operational activities, including emergency preparedness 
of the CVP and SWP in the Delta;
     Operational activities in the Delta related to water 
transfers involving water contractors or to serve environmental 
     Maintenance of the CVP, SWP, and other PREs' facilities in 
the Delta;
     Facility improvements of the CVP and SWP within the 
Statutory Delta (California Water Code Section 12220);
     Ongoing operation of and recurrent and future projects 
related to other Delta

[[Page 20328]]

water users, as defined by the Planning Agreement;
     Projects designed to improve Delta salinity conditions; 
     Conservation measures included in the BDCP, including, but 
not limited to, fishery related habitat restoration projects, adaptive 
management, and monitoring activities in the Delta.

Covered Species

    The covered species that are the initial focus of the BDCP include 
certain aquatic species such as:
     Central Valley steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss;
     Central Valley Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha 
(spring-run and fall/late fall-runs);
     Sacramento River Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha 
     Delta smelt Hypomesus transpacificus;
     Green sturgeon Acipenser medirostris;
     White sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus;
     Splittail Pogonichthys macrolepidotus; and
     Longfin smelt Spirinchus thaleichthys.
    Other species that will be considered for inclusion in the BDCP 
include, but may not be limited to:
     Swainson's hawk Buteo swainsoni;
     Bank swallow Riparia riparia;
     Giant garter snake Thamnophis gigas; and
     Valley elderberry longhorn beetle Desmocerus californicus 
    This list identifies the species that will be evaluated for 
inclusion in the BDCP as proposed covered species; however, the list 
may change as the planning process progresses. The participants 
anticipate that species may be added or removed from the list once more 
is learned about the nature of the covered activities and the impact of 
covered activities on native species within the planning area.

BDCP Planning Goals

    The BDCP will include goals and objectives related to the 
management of covered activities and the protection of covered species 
and their habitats. As described in the Planning Agreement, the 
planning goals include:
    1. Provide for the conservation and management of covered species 
within the planning area;
    2. Preserve, restore, and enhance aquatic, riparian, and associated 
terrestrial natural communities and ecosystems that support covered 
species within the planning area through conservation partnerships;
    3. Allow for projects that restore and protect water supply 
reliability, water quality, ecosystem, and ecosystem health to proceed 
within a stable regulatory framework;
    4. Provide a means to implement covered activities in a manner that 
complies with applicable State and federal fish and wildlife protection 
laws, including the NCCPA or CESA, FESA, and other environmental laws, 
including CEQA and NEPA;
    5. Provide a basis for permits necessary to lawfully take covered 
    6. Provide a comprehensive means to coordinate and standardize 
mitigation and compensation requirements for covered activities within 
the planning area;
    7. Provide a less costly, more efficient project review process 
which results in greater conservation values than project-by-project, 
species-by-species review, and;
    8. Provide clear expectations and regulatory assurances regarding 
covered activities occurring within the planning area.

Project Area

    The planning area for the BDCP will consist of the aquatic 
ecosystems and natural communities and, potentially, the adjacent 
riparian and floodplain natural communities within the Statutory Delta. 
The Statutory Delta includes parts of Yolo, Solano, Contra Costa, San 
Joaquin, and Sacramento counties. However, it may be necessary for the 
BDCP to include conservation actions outside of the Statutory Delta 
that advance the goals and objectives of the BDCP within the Delta, 
including as appropriate, conservation actions in the Suisun Marsh, 
Suisun Bay, and areas upstream of the Delta. Any conservation actions 
outside the Statutory Delta would be implemented pursuant to 
cooperative agreements or similar mechanisms with local agencies, 
interested non-governmental organizations, landowners, and others. The 
EIS/EIR project area for which impacts are evaluated may be different 
than the BDCP geographic scope.

Basis for Preliminary Alternatives

    As part of the BDCP process, the Steering Committee evaluated 
potential options to address water supply reliability, water quality, 
and ecosystem health in the Delta. Initial options included various 
combinations of water conveyance facilities and habitat restoration 
actions. As a result of this evaluation, the Steering Committee 
developed the Points of Agreement document that provides an overall 
framework for moving forward with development of the BDCP. Previous 
evaluations and potential improvements to the water conveyance system 
and strategies for in-Delta habitat restoration and enhancement 
outlined in the Points of Agreement document will be used for the basis 
of alternative development, but will not preclude or limit the range of 
alternatives to be analyzed under NEPA.

Statutory Authority

    Reclamation, as administrative lead for this Federal Register 
action, provides this notice in accordance with NEPA regulations found 
in 40 CFR 1501.7.
    NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requires that Federal agencies 
conduct an environmental analysis of their proposed actions to 
determine if the actions may significantly affect the human 
environment. Under NEPA and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1500 
et seq.; NOAA Administrative Order 216-6), a reasonable range of 
alternatives to the proposed action are to be developed and considered 
in an EIS/EIR prepared by the FWS and NMFS. Alternatives considered for 
analysis in an EIS/EIR may include variations in the scope or types of 
covered activities; variations in the location, amount, and types of 
conservation measures and the timing of project activities; variations 
in permit duration; or a combination of these or other elements. In 
addition, as required by NEPA, the EIS will identify significant 
direct, indirect, and cumulative effects, and possible mitigation for 
those significant effects, on biological resources, land use, air 
quality, water quality, water resources, socioeconomics, environmental 
justice, cultural resources, and other environmental issues that could 
occur with the implementation of the proposed action and alternatives.

Request for Comments

    The purpose of this notice is to advise other Federal and State 
agencies, affected Tribes, and the public of our intention to continue 
to gather information to support the preparation of an EIS/EIR, to 
obtain suggestions and information from other agencies and the public 
on the scope of alternatives and issues to be addressed in the EIS/EIR, 
and to identify important issues raised by the public related to the 
development and implementation of the BDCP. Written comments from 
interested parties are invited to ensure that the full range of 
alternatives and issues related to the development of the BDCP is 
identified. Comments during this stage of the scoping process will only 

[[Page 20329]]

accepted in written form. All comments received, including names and 
addresses, will become part of the official administrative record and 
may be made available to the public. A similar notice is being 
published by DWR in accordance with CEQA requirements. Comments and 
participation in the scoping process are encouraged.

Special Assistance for Public Scoping Meetings

    If special assistance is required at the public meetings, please 
contact Ms. Patti Idlof at 916-978-5056, TDD 916-978-5608, or via e-
mail at pidlof@mp.usbr.gov. Please notify Ms. Idlof as far in advance 
as possible to enable Reclamation to secure the needed services. If a 
request cannot be honored, the requestor will be notified. A telephone 
device for the hearing impaired (TDD) is available at 916-978-5608.

Public Disclosure

    Before including your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, 
or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should 
be aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Dated: April 4, 2008.
Susan M. Fry,
Regional Environmental Officer, Mid-Pacific Region, Bureau of 

    Dated: April 4, 2008.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 8, 
Sacramento, CA.

    Dated: April 4, 2008.
Russell M. Strach,
Assistant Regional Administrator, Southwest Region, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E8-8010 Filed 4-14-08; 8:45 am]