The conventional wisdom is that change in the Delta will come slowly or not at all. Too much conflict. Too many competing interests. All that litigation. But over the last year, a group of stakeholders in the Delta – representing a wide range of interests including agriculture, fisheries, environmental NGOs, local government, water agencies, levees, state and federal agencies – engaged in a novel process, the Delta Dialogues, in an attempt to come together.
It wasn’t a negotiation, but an intense, facilitated conversation toward the goal of coming to a shared understanding of the Delta’s problems and potential ways forward. The Delta Dialogues group began not trusting one another, but by the end, things had changed.
Four dialogue participants –Jason Peltier of Westlands Water District, Dale Hoffman-Floerke of the California Department of Water Resources, Gilbert Cosio of MBK Engineers, and Russell van Loben Sels of the Sacramento County Farm Bureau – will discuss what happened and whether the dialogues point to a way to peace and progress in the Delta water wars.
The Delta Dialogues was a six-month pilot project in 2012 that featured interest-based conversation among 23 Delta stakeholders, hosted by the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy. The Conservancy and the Delta Dialogues facilitation team designed the meetings to bring voices into the Delta policy conversations that previously had not been in the room – Delta agriculture, Delta county government, Delta businesses – in addition to the typical voices of state and federal water agencies, water contractors, and fish and wildlife agencies. The purpose of the dialogues is to build shared understanding of what the issues are – and then use the collective creativity of the group to develop shared strategies to address the issues.
The Conservancy is seeking funding for Phase 2, which would last for 12 months. Funding needs for Phase 2 are $710,000; about $300,000 has been committed to by the participants.
To register for the event, visit uccs.ucdavis.edu/events/registration. For more information about the Delta Dialogues or the UC Center event, e-mail Nancy Ullrey at email@example.com or call 916-375-2087.