Delta Research Station

Environmental Review Process for the Delta Research Station

The ERS and FTC are being analyzed for potential environmental impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). All DRS facilities involve governmental action (and are therefore subject to environmental review). In addition, the ERS and FTC are intended to be co-located with one another and potentially built at the same time. As such, the ERS/FTC are being analyzed together in a joint Environmental Impact Report (EIR)/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for CEQA/NEPA compliance. The overall CEQA/NEPA compliance process for the DRS will involve evaluation of potential impacts from constructing and operating the project components (e.g., impacts to biological resources, traffic, air quality, noise, and others), development of a range of feasible alternatives, and consideration of public comment.

The ERS and FTC are intended to be co-located with one another. As described on the Overview of the Delta Research Station webpage, the ERS would be a center for research and study of the Bay-Delta ecosystem, and the FTC would be a center for research, conservation and study of rare delta fishes. Development of the ERS/FTC involves a number of steps, beginning with site selection and screening, environmental review, site planning, design and permitting, and finally construction.

  1. Site Selection and Screening
    To determine the best available site for the ERS/FTC and to comply with CEQA and NEPA, DWR and USFWS conducted an alternatives screening process. Alternatives screening refers to the process of evaluating a broad range of conceptual alternatives to identify those that should be carried forward for detailed environmental analysis. As required by CEQA and NEPA, the alternatives selected for analysis through the screening process must both be feasible and meet project objectives. Criteria, such as distance to amenities and infrastructure, compatibility with existing land uses, and potential constraints related biological or cultural resources would be used to rank and select sites for analysis.
  2. Preliminary Site Planning
    Once preferred sites have been identified through the site screening process, conceptual drawings will be prepared for the ERS and FTC at each of the sites selected for analysis. These drawings, or layout plans, will include design criteria of the land for each facility, such as site area, building area and height, roads, parking, water and wastewater infrastructure, and electricity and gas.
  3. CEQA/NEPA Evaluation
    Because the ERS and FTC would serve related purposes and would be sited in the same location, they are being considered in a single environmental document under both state and federal environmental laws. To comply with CEQA and NEPA, DWR and USFWS have prepared a joint EIR/ EIS. The EIR/EIS evaluates the potential environmental impacts of the facilities, considers a range of feasible alternatives, and prescribes mitigation measures where appropriate to lessen adverse environmental impacts. The EIR/EIS process also allows for public input on the project at several stages in the process.
  4. Regulatory Permitting
    In addition to complying with CEQA/NEPA, the ERS and FTC will also have to comply with a number of other environmental regulations, such as the state and federal Endangered Species Acts, federal Clean Water Act, and local regulations. Similar to the CEQA/NEPA process, the regulatory permitting process will evaluate the potential environmental impacts from the facilities and consider ways to reduce those impacts. Regulatory permitting for the ERS/FTC would be conducted in parallel or shortly after the CEQA/NEPA process and facility design, prior to site development.
  5. Facility Design
    Based on the conceptual drawings developed during the preliminary site planning phase, the ERS/FTC facility design will be further developed. For the ERS, a Master Plan will be developed, which will include: (a) a layout of parking stalls, footpaths, and building footprints; (b) conceptual building designs; (c) and (d) colored conceptual renderings of each building. The draft Master Plan will be presented to stakeholders and further revised based on comments received. Facility designs will then be further developed (i.e., to reach 100 percent design) when a development team is selected. A similar facility design process will be conducted for the FTC.
  6. Site Development
    The specific construction methods that would be used for development of the ERS/FTC have not yet been defined; however, site development activities would likely include grading and excavation, building construction, and extensions of utilities to service the facilities. Equipment used during construction would likely include excavators, dump trucks, bull dozers, backhoes, and graders.