Updated Layperson’s Guide Explores Vital Role Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Plays For State’s Water, Ecology & Farms
Newly updated, the tenth edition of the Guide offers a "mini-textbook" to history, key issues and challenges

Our popular Layperson’s Guide to the Delta has just been updated to reflect the latest information about efforts to reconcile ecosystem needs of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta with its role as California’s vital water delivery hub as well as its place as an important agricultural region and a popular recreation destination.

The Delta is the largest freshwater tidal estuary on the West Coast and is a unique resource and distinct feature of Northern California’s landscape. The water that flows through the Delta provides a significant portion of drinking water for more than 29 million Californians, serves a $50 billion agricultural industry, is home to native and nonnative plants and animals and is a crucial part of the state’s two largest surface water delivery systems – the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.


Learn More About Key Upper Colorado River Basin Water Manager in Latest Western Water Q&A
Meet Becky Mitchell of Colorado, the headwaters state for a major water source for California

Becky Mitchell, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.Colorado is home to the headwaters of the Colorado River and the water policy decisions made in the Centennial State reverberate throughout the river’s sprawling basin that stretches south to California, Arizona and Mexico.

The task of working with interstate partners to address the challenges of the Colorado River Basin while balancing competing water demands within the state of Colorado rests largely with Becky Mitchell, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

In the latest article in Western Water, Mitchell talked about her state’s plan to address an expected water supply shortfall, climate risks and the prospects for future Colorado River operations as the river system deals with prolonged drought.

Water News You Need to Know

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Money to repair Central Valley canal in House bill. A large funding gap remains

South San Joaquin Valley farmers have a reason to celebrate this week: Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives appropriated $200 million to fix the Friant-Kern Canal. The bill also includes funding to repair the Delta-Mendota Canal and for two Northern California reservoirs.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

In parched Southwest, warm spring renews threat of ‘megadrought’

Here at 12,000 feet on the Continental Divide, only vestiges of the winter snowpack remain, scattered white patches that have yet to melt and feed the upper Colorado River, 50 miles away. That’s normal for mid-June in the Rockies. What’s unusual this year is the speed at which the snow went. And with it went hopes for a drought-free year in the Southwest.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Ruling avoids additional CVP supply cuts

U.S. District Court Judge Dale Drozd of the Eastern District of California, who is based in Fresno, denied environmental groups’ request for an injunction that would have required the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the CVP, to reduce water allocations as needed to manage water temperatures in the Sacramento River below Shasta Dam. The groups sought more cold water for spring- and winter-run chinook salmon.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Proposed changes to Paso Robles Groundwater Basin boundaries draw anger and skepticism from landowners

After seven years of water restrictions over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, San Luis Obispo County is redrawing the basin’s boundaries, which will subject hundreds of new property owners to a moratorium on irrigating and other rules.

Online Water Encyclopedia

Restored wetlands in Northern California
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Wetlands are among the most important ecosystems in the world. They produce high levels of oxygen, filter toxic chemicals out of water, sequester carbon, reduce flooding and erosion, recharge groundwater and provide a diverse range of recreational opportunities from fishing and hunting to photography. They also serve as critical habitat for wildlife, including a large percentage of plants and animals on California’s endangered species list.

Salton Sea
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Salton Sea

As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its elevation of 237 feet below sea level.

The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years, creating California’s largest inland body of water. The Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130 miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe

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Drought— an extended period of limited or no precipitation— is a fact of life in California and the West, with water resources following boom and-bust patterns. During California’s most recent drought, from 2012–2016, much of the state experienced severe drought conditions – significantly less precipitation and snowpack, reduced streamflow and higher temperatures.

No portion of the West has been immune to drought during the last century and drought occurs with much greater frequency in the West than in any other regions of the country.


Important People in California Water History

Read about the history people who played a significant role in the water history of California.