April 24th, 2012

Introducing the Delta Dialogues


Why are we doing the Delta Dialogues?

I consider myself fortunate to get to work on the Delta. This unique place and ecosystem are not only the backbone of the California water supply, but also a wonderfully rich natural and cultural heritage for California and a really great place to spend time out of Sacramento.

Unfortunately the stressors on the Delta are many. And to date our attempts to address those stressors, and ensure California has a stable, secure water supply while restoring this critical ecosystem, have been immensely challenging.

The purpose of the Delta Dialogues is to bring all of the stakeholders who care about the future of the Delta in to the same room for a different type of conversation. It’s not about winning or losing, who did what to whom, or creating yet another plan. The Delta Dialogues are a forum for a truly inclusive and diverse set of stakeholders in the Delta to listen, build shared understanding, discuss the “why” not just the “what” of the matter,  and build new trusted relationships. In short, the purpose is to have meaningful conversations that could inform and catalyze a new type of shared understanding, and in the long term action, around the future of the Delta.

Who will be the participants?

The Conservancy’s issue-based dialogue allows traditional stakeholders (water purveyors, state and federal agencies), in-Delta residents (farmers, local governments), and other non-governmental organizations (recreational associations, environmental organizations) to talk about what really matters to them.

How many participants will there be?

Our aim is to be truly inclusive of all the Delta stakeholders. This is not meant to be another closed door meeting. For the purposes of enabling truly transformative dialogue, and ensuring we have the consistent participation necessary to build trusted relationships, we are kicking off this process with 20 people representing all of the above interests.

What is the purpose of the storytelling blog?

In order to expand the room without expanding the number of people in it, we will be periodically sharing updates from the Delta Dialogue here on this blog.

The process of aligning around and implementing a collaborative framework for managing the scarce resources and competing interests of the Delta will take years, perhaps decades. But the situation is urgent. The Delta will not wait for a business-as-usual approach.  Future efforts not based on robust shared understanding and shared commitment among stakeholders with competing interests will not be decisive or effective. It will simply lead to more deadlock, as it has for decades.

It is our humble ambition that the Delta Dialogues can help us move beyond business-as-usual and towards a new understanding, and future for the Delta.

-Campbell Ingram

Executive Officer, the Delta Conservancy