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The Senate Rules Committee unanimously voted today to confirm three appointees to the new Delta Stewardship Council, which is charged with reconciling competing demands for water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The seven-member council was created as part of a package of water bills passed by the Legislature last year -- a package that included an $11.1 billion bond issue to finance water projects. The bond issue was to have appeared on the Nov. 2 ballot but, worried about its chances, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators have shifted it to the 2012 ballot.

The three Schwarzenegger appointees -- former Assemblyman Phil Isenberg, San Joaquin Valley farmer and water leader Randy Fiorini and San Diego business executive Hank Nordhoff -- won wide support from water lobbyists during the brief hearing. A fourth Schwarzenegger appointee, Felicia Marcus of Emeryville, has not yet had a confirmation hearing.

Two other members, former Sen. Patrick Johnston of Stockton and Gloria Gray of Inglewood, were named by the Legislature. Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli serves because he's chairman of the Delta Protection Commission.

The council is drawing up what is called the Delta Plan, a preliminary draft of which has already been released, aimed at reconciling demands from agricultural interests, municipal water suppliers and environmental groups for Delta water.

The conflicts have been raging for decades both in the Legislature and courts and past efforts to reconcile them have failed.

The preliminary Delta Plan is available here.


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