Topic: Delta Issues


Delta Issues

The Delta has been embroiled in controversy about how to restore a faltering ecosystem while maintaining its role as the hub of the state’s water supply.

Issues include improving water system management, estuary health, conservation efforts to protect the endangered Delta smelt, levee fragility and the proposed twin tunnels, which will be put on a statewide ballot in the future.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Will a $16-billion water tunnel destroy California’s delta?

In the heart of California, at the place where two great rivers converge beneath the Tule fog, lies the linchpin of one of the largest water supply systems in the world. [T]he Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta … is also the site of a bitter, decades-long battle over a proposed plan known as the Delta Conveyance Project — a 45-mile tunnel that would run beneath the delta to move more water from Northern California to thirsty cities to the south. State officials say the tunnel is a critical piece of infrastructure that would help protect millions of Californians from losing water supplies in the event of a major earthquake or levee break. … Opponents say the tunnel is a boondoggle that would further imperil the delta’s fragile ecosystem, which has already been eroded by heavy water withdrawals for agriculture and cities. 

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Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Blog: Governor’s water diversions obliterate Upper Sacramento fall Chinook salmon population by 96%

Scott Artis, the Golden State Salmon Association’s executive director, responded to the latest California salmon return numbers reported in the Pacific Fishery Management Council report released on February 16, 2024: “Under Governor Newsom, the upper Sacramento River, formerly the most important salmon producing river south of the Columbia, has been killed off. … Salmon eggs faced overheated water because of the failure of the State Water Resources Control Board to adequately control temperature pollution from Shasta Dam. … In 2023, the upper Sacramento River escapement (the spawning population) of fall-run Chinook salmon was 6,160 adults. Between 1995-2005, the average escapement was 175,496, which represents a loss of 96% of the upper Sacramento River’s spawning adults.”

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Funding could be biggest hurdle faced by the Delta tunnel as water users weigh costs versus benefits of the $16 billion project

The controversial Delta Conveyance Project may have bigger problems than legal action over its recently approved environmental impact report.  Who’s going to pay the estimated $16 billion price tag? The concept, a tunnel to take Sacramento River water beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to thirsty towns and farms further south, relies on the end users footing the bill. But over the decades that the project has languished in various iterations, those end users have become less enthusiastic to open their wallets. In fact, the single largest recipient of delta water via the State Water Project – and the single largest payer – the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, has committed only $160 million for project planning this time around.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Opinion: California’s Bay-Delta ecosystem needs regulatory protection

California’s Bay-Delta is in trouble, and its outdated water regulations need to catch up with the challenge. For a generation, the State Water Resources Control Board has not updated legally required and much needed rules for sharing water between the environment and other water uses throughout the Bay-Delta watershed. These new rules should result in additional flows for this water-starved system to protect fish and wildlife and improve water quality. Instead of finishing more than a decade of work and establishing long-overdue protections for the Bay-Delta ecosystem, the state is banking on voluntary agreements among water users to guide its actions. Some voluntary agreement proponents suggest there must be a choice between such agreements to provide flows and habitat and updated environmental protections.
-By Felicia Marcus, visiting fellow at Stanford University Water in the West Program; Michael Kiparsky, water program director at UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE); Nell Green Nylen, senior research fellow at CLEE; and Dave Owen, a professor at UC Law San Francisco.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Experts urge California to avoid water pitfalls in the delta

Some of the thorniest debates over water in California revolve around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, where pumps send water flowing to farms and cities, and where populations of native fish have been declining…. State water regulators are considering … “voluntary agreements” in which water agencies pledge to forgo certain amounts of water while also funding projects to improve wetland habitats. … To learn more about these issues, I spoke with Felicia Marcus and Michael Kiparsky, two experts who wrote a report outlining what they say should be “guiding principles for effective voluntary agreements.” … Marcus said if voluntary agreements go forward without adequate standards in place, “the ecosystem will continue to collapse and more species will go extinct.”

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Aquafornia news FishBIO

Blog: Salmon with a side of lamprey – Non-native basses primarily eat native fishes in California’s Stanislaus River

Salmon face many perils during their migration to the ocean, including disease, entrainment, degraded water quality, and predation. However, predation has been the factor that has generated the most interest and debate. FISHBIO has been conducting a research program focused on fish species that prey on other fish in the Stanislaus River to understand how predatory fishes may affect juvenile salmon migration. … The most frequently encountered predators were the non-native striped bass (Morone saxatilis) and black bass (multiple species in the genus Micropterus), and the native Sacramento pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus grandis). Analysis of their diet contents revealed that the non-native basses consumed native fish species such as fall-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus) at significantly higher frequencies than native predators …

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Still reeling from pandemic, Sacramento delta residents eye major land, water management deals

… [F]or those who live and work along the [Delta's] 57,000 acres of waterways, controversy over how to manage the delta’s levees, land and ecosystems has long been a part of this area’s legacy.  That’s particularly true now, amid big proposed changes to the area’s land and water use. State officials recently approved an environmental study on the Delta Conveyance Project, a plan to add a 35-foot-wide, 45-mile tunnel to speed up collection of water and add to the state’s storage following years of drought. Officials hope the project will improve supplies that have drastically dwindled due to climate change, but some fear it could draw water from local farms and further deplete the area’s wetland habitats.

Aquafornia news CBS - Sacramento

No more Delta smelt? The Delta tunnel project threatens their extinction for good

A project to move water from the Sacramento region down to Southern California was recently approved by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). The $16 billion Delta Conveyance Project is causing major controversy around environmental concerns. This is a very complex issue, Californians are in need of water all over the state. But with a project like the delta tunnel, environmentalists say the 50 species of fish in the delta are at risk as well as the wildlife and people who depend on the fish.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Commentary: Will cataloging California’s top policy issues inspire politicians to think long term?

California’s public policy issues tend to stretch across multiple years or even decades, while the attention spans of politicians are abbreviated by election cycles and term limits. The short-term mentality of governors and legislators undermines the continuity that’s needed to deal with long-term issues. Many examples of the syndrome exist but a classic is a project that has been kicking around in one form or another, with multiple name changes, for at least six decades – moving water from the Sacramento River around, through or under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the head of the California Aqueduct. It was touted as the last major link in the state’s water system, and originally it was to be a 43-mile-long “peripheral canal” around the Delta when first proposed in the 1960s.
-Written by CalMatters columnist Dan Walters.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Managing a cyanobacteria harmful algae bloom “hotspot” in the upper San Francisco estuary

At the January meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, interim Delta Lead Scientist Dr. Lisamarie Windham-Myers highlighted recent research on Harmful Algal Blooms, and highlighted upcoming Delta science events. This month’s article spotlight focuses on research funded by the Delta Science Program on the harmful algal blooms in 2022, a uniquely bad year for the toxic menace.  The research, led by Ellen Preece, focused on how nutrient loading affected cyanobacteria harmful algae blooms (CHABs) in the Deep Water Ship Channel and the Stockton waterfront area in the summer of 2022 and considered four categories of management actions to mitigate the occurrence and impact of the blooms. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

New study: Habitat restoration for native fish populations in California’s Central Valley

In a new report, U.S. Geological Survey scientists working in collaboration with the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) have laid the foundation for a comprehensive understanding of how habitat restoration can significantly benefit native fish populations in California’s Central Valley. The study focuses on the Central Valley Project, one of the largest water projects in the nation. … The report outlines ideas related to habitat restoration and channel modifications that could enhance conditions for native fishes with minimal or no additional water cost beyond what is already allocated for other management actions

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

EPA advocates for river flows to the Sacramento River Delta

The Bay Delta Plan should focus more on the amount of water flowing through rivers and less on habitat restorations to restore its ecosystems, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) comments submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board. The Water Board, which is in the process of revising its draft Bay Delta Plan for public review, will decide what river-flow requirements and water-quality controls will govern uses within the Sacramento River watershed. The EPA’s comments came as part of the plan’s public comment period, which closed on Jan. 19.

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Aquafornia news Delta Protection Commission

News release: Delta NHA Management Plan released for public comment

The Delta Protection Commission today released a public-comment draft of the Management Plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area (Delta NHA). … The Delta NHA was created in 2019 by Congress (PDF). It is California’s first, and so far only, National Heritage Area. … The Delta Protection Commission is scheduled to vote on the plan March 7, 2024, after which it will be submitted to the Secretary of the Interior for approval. After approval, implementation of the plan can begin.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Green sturgeon aren’t salmon – Updated life cycle models for management

Over 65 million years ago, as Tyrannosaurus rex roamed the great plains, green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) were already roaming the world’s waters. While these ancient fish survived the fall of dinosaurs, they are now in danger of extinction largely due to habitat degradation and losses from water management infrastructure and its operation (e.g., impairing flow, disrupting thermal regimes). While you would think the potential loss of a prehistoric giant (up to 8 feet long and hundreds of pounds) would capture the world’s attention, the imminent sturgeon extinction has unfortunately been under the public radar. Reasons for the lack of attention include their cryptic behavior (moving unseen through deep murky waters) and their late maturity (not reproducing until around 15 years old). These traits make it harder to notice and document population declines. To combat these challenges, we are working on a life cycle model that could shed some light on sturgeon ecology.

Aquafornia news California Globe

Opinion: Comparing the Delta tunnel versus desalination

… One of the biggest concerns about desalination projects is the financial cost to build them. … [A] relevant comparison is the estimated cost for the Huntington Beach Desalination plant versus the estimated cost for the proposed Delta Tunnel. We must bear in mind that the Delta Tunnel, if it is ever built, probably won’t add one drop to California’s water supply.
-Written by Edward Ring, a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president.

Aquafornia news Vallejo Times Herald

California Forever revisions shrink proposed footprint by 1,100 acres

California Forever refiled its East Solano Homes, Jobs, and Clean Energy Initiative on Monday, shrinking the proposed footprint of its new community to 17,500 acres from 18,600 acres. Language has been added to ensure that, if passed, Solano County will have the right to enforce the development agreement, including all guarantees made by California Forever to the voters, through the duration of the development agreement. … On water, the plan has adapted to include language ensuring it will meet standards of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and other regulations to “protect groundwater uses in the long term and assure that neighboring uses are protected.” Imported water will be used to augment groundwater replenishment “to the extent it is needed,” the new details explain. Additional water sources will be identified “in other parts of the state,” according to new language.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

Two EPAs are at odds over a landmark water plan for the Bay-Delta

While the Newsom administration is backing a set of voluntary agreements over freshwater flows, the U.S. EPA is siding with environmentalists and wants to commit 40-60% of the water to fish. The conflict has quietly played out through comment letters between the federal agency and the State Water Resources Control Board within CalEPA. The board is preparing an update to its controversial Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan and the ramifications of the decision could severely impact water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley farmers.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Ramping up releases of hatchery Delta smelt to the wild

It’s a lovely December morning in Rio Vista, a town of 10,000 in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The sky is a soft blue, the sun brings welcome warmth against the chill, and the water is calm with just a hint of ripples―ideal conditions for the team of state and federal biologists standing on a boat launch on the Sacramento River at 8:30 am. They’re here to release captive-raised Delta smelt, a small endangered fish unique to the region, into the wild. The clock on the release began ticking at 7 am. That’s when another crew started loading the smelt into insulated cylindrical drums called carboys at the Fish Conservation and Culture Laboratory, a conservation hatchery about 30 miles south near the town of Byron. The hatchery, operated by the University of California, Davis, has maintained a genetically-diverse captive population of these imperiled fish since 2007.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: Gov. Newsom is accelerating California’s extinction crisis

California is at the forefront of a global crisis known as the Anthropocene extinction. This rapid eradication of living diversity is not caused by meteor strikes or volcanic eruptions, but by human activity. No animal group is more at risk than fishes. Researchers recently concluded that our state is a world leader in the number of freshwater fishes likely to become extinct by the end of the century. Governor Newsom’s water policies are accelerating this race to oblivion. Many of California’s imperiled native fishes live in San Francisco Bay, including five species that are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Baykeeper recently sued the US Fish and Wildlife Service to add the Bay’s population of longfin smelt to that list. And, late last year, we and our partners petitioned state and federal agencies to protect the Bay’s white sturgeon population as threatened after decades of decline.
-Written by Jon Rosenfield, PhD, SF Baykeeper science director; and Eric Buescher, SF Baykeeper managing attorney.​

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Environmentalists, local water agencies sue over Delta tunnel project

A month after California’s water regulator gave its seal of approval to a controversial water infrastructure project that could replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the plan is coming under renewed legal fire. Eight lawsuits filed by several counties, local water agencies and a coalition of environmental advocates claim the Department of Water Resources violated laws protecting the beleaguered estuary when it approved the project. The complaints allege the Delta tunnel project, formally called the Delta Conveyance, would imperil the region’s environmental health and human survival, from endangered and threatened fish species to low-income residents and multigenerational farms. 

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Blog: Building a defense against extinction: Reclamation, partner agencies continue extraordinary effort to save Delta smelt

The group of low-slung, nondescript buildings in a remote corner of San Joaquin County near Tracy are hardly noticeable and are not open to the public. Inside, scientists are cultivating a slender, silvery minnow-like fish species with the aim of staving off its extinction, and reverse the course of decline of the long-troubled Delta smelt. Those familiar with the plight of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta need no introduction to the Delta smelt. Derided by some pundits as a worthless bait fish whose existence stymies water deliveries, the once-plentiful smelt’s tale is one of the estuary’s woes.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Why are top California Democrats ducking Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Delta tunnel project?

The three top Democrats seeking to replace the late Dianne Feinstein in the United States Senate managed to clearly answer every question California’s McClatchy opinion team recently managed to pose. Except for one. It happened to deal with one of Feinstein’s signature issues: Water. Here was the question: “Climate change is requiring California to adapt its water management and develop new supplies. What is your position on Governor Newsom’s Delta Conveyance Project…?” One said yes. Two said they were studying the matter. Asked the identical question, our incumbent Senator, Alex Padilla, said he was analyzing a recently-published environmental document. Three out of four of California’s leading Democrats are flunking a key leadership test. The Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta is ground zero in California water. It is home to the two largest water diversion projects that two-thirds of the state depends on.
-Written by Tom Philp, Sacramento Bee columnist.

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Aquafornia news Bay City News

Environmental groups sue to block Delta Tunnel project

Environmental groups on Friday sued the California Department of Water Resources for approving a plan to divert water from the environmentally sensitive Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta to Central and Southern California. The lawsuit says the water agency failed to consider ecological and wildlife harms in giving the go-ahead for the giant tunnel known as the Delta Conveyance Project taking water from Northern California. Advocates say the project will modernize the state’s aging water system, which is currently not equipped to capture water amid climate change conditions. Opponents say the tunnel would divert billions of gallons of water from the Sacramento River, harming delta smelt, Chinook salmon and other imperiled fish.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Dr. Laurel Larsen’s stint tackling with the wicked Delta problems ends

Like her predecessors, Delta Lead Scientist Dr. Laurel Larsen brought impressive credentials to the post. Among other roles, she headed the Environmental Systems Dynamics Laboratory at U.C. Berkeley. “We liked to deal with so-called ‘wicked problems,’” she says: complex and intractable messes, like the Delta. “That’s one reason that this position was attractive to me.” … “One of my favorite parts of the job has been the inter-agency work. For instance, are we all using the same projections about climate change and sea-level rise? And I’ve been passionate about forging collaborations with academia.”

Aquafornia news California Water Impact Network

Blog: Muddying the waters – State Water Board’s Bay-Delta environmental analysis falls short

The State Water Resources Control Board’s long-awaited environmental assessment of the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta estuary correctly describes the dire state of current affairs: keystone native fish species are nearing extinction, commercial fisheries, sport angling and recreational opportunities are disappearing, costs for domestic water services are skyrocketing, toxic algal blooms are threatening human health and wildlife, and salinity is intruding far into the Delta, threatening domestic water supplies and arable farmland, according to a press statement from the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN). The Water Board also notes in the 6,000-page assessment that tree nuts – notoriously thirsty crops that have been the mainstay of San Joaquin Valley agribusiness for two decades – are now spreading northward into the Sacramento Valley.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: Sites Reservoir would cause negative environmental impacts to Sacramento River

As the permitting battle over the proposed Sites Reservoir Project in Northern California heats up, it’s become clear that the project would further heat up the atmosphere as well. Just as California has made bold commitments to achieve carbon neutrality in the next few decades, the state seems ready to approve a dam project that would put that progress in jeopardy. A new report, “Estimate of Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the Proposed Sites Reservoir Project Using the All-Res Modeling Tool,” created by a science team at my organization, Tell The Dam Truth, exposes the climate impacts caused by this massive dam and reservoir system.
-Written by Gary Wockner, PhD, who directs Tell The Dam Truth


Foundation Unveils Interactive Online Tour of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
Story map guides readers through different facets of the Delta, including its importance as an ecological resource and water hub

Image shows opening screen on Delta story mapThe Water Education Foundation has unveiled an interactive online tour of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that offers viewers and readers a broad overview of the heart of California water – its history and development, its importance as an ecological resource and water hub and the array of challenges it faces.

Titled “Exploring the Heart of California Water,” the online tour, built as a story map, guides readers and viewers through different facets of the Delta. It includes the Delta’s history and the people – including the Native American tribes – who have lived there, the fish and wildlife that depend on its waters and its role as a crossroads for federal, state and local water projects.

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map
Published March 2021

Delta Map for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

This beautifully illustrated 24×36-inch poster, suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom, highlights the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, its place as a center of farming, its importance as an ecological resource and its vital role in California’s water supply system. 

The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization, farming, fish and wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. 

Western Water Water Education Foundation

ON THE ROAD: Cosumnes River Preserve Offers Visitors a Peek at What the Central Valley Once Looked Like
Preserve at the edge of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta includes valley oak forests and wintering grounds for cranes

Sandhill cranes gather at the Cosumnes River Preserve south of Sacramento.Deep, throaty cadenced calls — sounding like an off-key bassoon — echo over the grasslands, farmers’ fields and wetlands starting in late September of each year. They mark the annual return of sandhill cranes to the Cosumnes River Preserve, 46,000 acres located 20 miles south of Sacramento on the edge of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.


Registration Now Open for the 36th Annual Water Summit; Take Advantage of Early Bird Discount by Registering Today
Join us Oct. 30 for key conversations on water in California and the West

Registration opens today for the Water Education Foundation’s 36th annual Water Summit, set for Oct. 30 in Sacramento. This year’s theme, Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning, reflects fast-approaching deadlines for the State Groundwater Management Act as well as the pressing need for new approaches to water management as California and the West weather intensified flooding, fire and drought. To register for this can’t-miss event, visit our Water Summit event page.

Registration includes a full day of discussions by leading stakeholders and policymakers on key issues, as well as coffee, materials, gourmet lunch and an outdoor reception by the Sacramento River that will offer the opportunity to network with speakers and other attendees. The summit also features a silent auction to benefit our Water Leaders program featuring items up for bid such as kayaking trips, hotel stays and lunches with key people in the water world.


2019 Water Summit Theme Announced – Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning
Join us October 30 in Sacramento for our premier annual event

Sacramento RiverOur 36th annual Water Summit, happening Oct. 30 in Sacramento, will feature the theme “Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning,” reflecting upcoming regulatory deadlines and efforts to improve water management and policy in the face of natural disasters.

The Summit will feature top policymakers and leading stakeholders providing the latest information and a variety of viewpoints on issues affecting water across California and the West.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

California’s New Natural Resources Secretary Takes on Challenge of Implementing Gov. Newsom’s Ambitious Water Agenda
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Wade Crowfoot addresses Delta tunnel shift, Salton Sea plan and managing water amid a legacy of conflict

Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary.One of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.

That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach” on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.

Western Water Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map Gary Pitzer

Bruce Babbitt Urges Creation of Bay-Delta Compact as Way to End ‘Culture of Conflict’ in California’s Key Water Hub
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Former Interior secretary says Colorado River Compact is a model for achieving peace and addressing environmental and water needs in the Delta

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt gives the Anne J. Schneider Lecture April 3 at Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum.  Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona governor and secretary of the Interior, has been a thoughtful, provocative and sometimes forceful voice in some of the most high-profile water conflicts over the last 40 years, including groundwater management in Arizona and the reduction of California’s take of the Colorado River. In 2016, former California Gov. Jerry Brown named Babbitt as a special adviser to work on matters relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Delta tunnels plan.

Western Water California Water Map Layperson's Guide to the State Water Project Gary Pitzer

As He Steps Aside, Tim Quinn Talks About ‘Adversarialists,’ Collaboration and Hope For Solving the State’s Tough Water Issues
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Tim Quinn, retiring executive director of Association of California Water Agencies

ACWA Executive Director Tim Quinn  with a report produced by Association of California Water Agencies on  sustainable groundwater management.  (Source:  Association of California Water Agencies)In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

What Would You Do About Water If You Were California’s Next Governor?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Survey at Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit elicits a long and wide-ranging potential to-do list

There’s going to be a new governor in California next year – and a host of challenges both old and new involving the state’s most vital natural resource, water.

So what should be the next governor’s water priorities?

That was one of the questions put to more than 150 participants during a wrap-up session at the end of the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Despite Risk of Unprecedented Shortage on the Colorado River, Reclamation Commissioner Sees Room for Optimism
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Commissioner Brenda Burman, in address at Foundation’s Water Summit, also highlights Shasta Dam plan

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda BurmanThe Colorado River Basin is more than likely headed to unprecedented shortage in 2020 that could force supply cuts to some states, but work is “furiously” underway to reduce the risk and avert a crisis, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told an audience of California water industry people.

During a keynote address at the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento, Burman said there is opportunity for Colorado River Basin states to control their destiny, but acknowledged that in water, there are no guarantees that agreement can be reached.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

When Water Worries Often Pit Farms vs. Fish, a Sacramento Valley Farm Is Trying To Address The Needs Of Both
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: River Garden Farms is piloting projects that could add habitat and food to aid Sacramento River salmon

Roger Cornwell, general manager of River Garden Farms, with an example of a refuge like the ones that were lowered into the Sacramento River at Redding to shelter juvenile salmon.  Farmers in the Central Valley are broiling about California’s plan to increase flows in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems to help struggling salmon runs avoid extinction. But in one corner of the fertile breadbasket, River Garden Farms is taking part in some extraordinary efforts to provide the embattled fish with refuge from predators and enough food to eat.

And while there is no direct benefit to one farm’s voluntary actions, the belief is what’s good for the fish is good for the farmers.


Annual Water Summit to Focus on Critical Issues from the Headwaters to the Delta
Registration now open for Sept. 20th event in Sacramento; some sponsorship opportunities still available

Our annual Water Summit, being held Sept. 20, will feature critical conversations about water in California and the West revolving around the theme: Facing Reality from the Headwaters to the Delta. 

As debate continues to swirl around longer-term remedies for California’s water challenges, the theme reflects the need for straightforward dialogue about more immediate, on-the-ground solutions.


Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman to be Keynote Speaker at Water Summit
Registration now open for Sept. 20th event in Sacramento

Reclamation Commissioner Brenda BurmanBrenda Burman, commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, will give the keynote lunch address at our 35th annual conference, the Water Summit, to be held Sept. 20 in Sacramento.

The daylong event will feature critical conversations about water in California and the West revolving around the theme: Facing Reality from the Headwaters to the Delta.

Western Water Space Invaders Gary Pitzer

It’s Not Just Nutria — Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has 185 Invasive Species, But Tracking Them is Uneven
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Delta science panel urges greater coordination, funding of invasive species monitoring

Water hyacinth choke a channel in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.For more than 100 years, invasive species have made the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta their home, disrupting the ecosystem and costing millions of dollars annually in remediation.

The latest invader is the nutria, a large rodent native to South America that causes concern because of its propensity to devour every bit of vegetation in sight and destabilize levees by burrowing into them. Wildlife officials are trapping the animal and trying to learn the extent of its infestation.

Western Water Water Education Foundation

ON THE ROAD: Cosumnes River Preserve Offers Visitors a Peek at What the Central Valley Once Looked Like
Preserve at the edge of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta includes valley oak forests and wintering grounds for cranes

Sandhill cranes gather at the Cosumnes River Preserve south of Sacramento.Deep, throaty cadenced calls — sounding like an off-key bassoon — echo over the grasslands, farmers’ fields and wetlands starting in late September of each year. They mark the annual return of sandhill cranes to the Cosumnes River Preserve, 46,000 acres located 20 miles south of Sacramento on the edge of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law Gary Pitzer

Does California’s Environment Deserve its Own Water Right?
IN-DEPTH: Fisheries and wildlife face growing challenges, but so do water systems competing for limited supply. Is there room for an environmental water right?

Sunset in Sacramento-San Joaquin DeltaDoes California need to revamp the way in which water is dedicated to the environment to better protect fish and the ecosystem at large? In the hypersensitive world of California water, where differences over who gets what can result in epic legislative and legal battles, the idea sparks a combination of fear, uncertainty and promise.

Saying that the way California manages water for the environment “isn’t working for anyone,” the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shook things up late last year by proposing a redesigned regulatory system featuring what they described as water ecosystem plans and water budgets with allocations set aside for the environment.


Deepen Your Knowledge of California Water and Visit the Delta
Popular Water 101 Workshop includes optional one-day Delta Tour

Deepen your knowledge of California water issues at our popular Water 101 Workshop and jump aboard the bus the next day to visit the  Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource.

Western Water Magazine

CALFED at a Crossroads: A Decade of the Bay-Delta Program
March/April 2005

This issue of Western Water discusses the CALFED Bay-Delta Program and what the future holds as it enters a crucial period. From its continued political viability to the advancement of best available science and the challenges of fulfilling the ROD, the near future will feature a lively discussion that will play a significant role in the program’s future.

Western Water Magazine

Developing a Delta Vision
May/June 2006

This issue of Western Water examines the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as it stands today and the efforts by government agencies, policy experts, elected officials and the public at large to craft a vision for a sustainable future.

Western Water Magazine

Building a Delta Vision: A Roundtable Discussion
January/February 2007

There are multiple Delta Vision processes underway and a decision on the future of the Delta will be made in the next two years. Unlike past planning efforts that focused primarily on water resource issues and the ecosystem, these current efforts are expanding to include land use planning, recreation, flood management, and energy, rail and transportation infrastructure. How – or if – all these competing demands can be accommodated is the question being considered.

Western Water Magazine

Finding a Vision for the Delta
March/April 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines the Delta through the many ongoing activities focusing on it, most notably the Delta Vision process. Many hours of testimony, research, legal proceedings, public hearings and discussion have occurred and will continue as the state seeks the ultimate solution to the problems tied to the Delta.

Western Water Magazine

Delta Conveyance: The Debate Continues
March/April 2009

This printed issue of Western Water provides an overview of the idea of a dual conveyance facility, including questions surrounding its cost, operation and governance

Western Water Magazine

Changing the Status Quo: The 2009 Water Package
January/February 2010

This printed issue of Western Water looks at some of the pieces of the 2009 water legislation, including the Delta Stewardship Council, the new requirements for groundwater monitoring and the proposed water bond.

Western Water Magazine

Making the Connection: Sound Science and Good Delta Policy
July/August 2011

This printed issue of Western Water examines science – the answers it can provide to help guide management decisions in the Delta and the inherent uncertainty it holds that can make moving forward such a tenuous task.

Western Water Magazine

How Much Water Does the Delta Need?
July/August 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines the issues associated with the State Water Board’s proposed revision of the water quality Bay-Delta Plan, most notably the question of whether additional flows are needed for the system, and how they might be provided.

Western Water Magazine

Viewing Water with a Wide Angle Lens: A Roundtable Discussion
January/February 2013

This printed issue of Western Water features a roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

Western Water Magazine

Meeting the Co-equal Goals? The Bay Delta Conservation Plan
May/June 2013

This issue of Western Water looks at the BDCP and the Coalition to Support Delta Projects, issues that are aimed at improving the health and safety of the Delta while solidifying California’s long-term water supply reliability.


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.


Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project explores the history and development of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery system. In addition to the project’s history, the guide describes the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

How Much Water Does the Delta Need?
July/August 2012

The San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem needs freshwater to survive. How much water and where it comes from is a longstanding debate that is flaring up as the state embarks on an updated water quality plan for the Bay-Delta.

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Delta Plan

The Delta Plan is a comprehensive management plan for the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta intended to help the state meet the coequal goals of water reliability and ecosystem restoration.

The Delta Stewardship Council, which oversees the Delta Plan, adopted a final version in May 2013 after three years of study and public meetings. Once completed, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan could be incorporated into the Delta Plan.

Photo gallery

Images from the Bay-Delta tour


Delta Warning

15-minute DVD that graphically portrays the potential disaster should a major earthquake hit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. “Delta Warning” depicts what would happen in the event of an earthquake registering 6.5 on the Richter scale: 30 levee breaks, 16 flooded islands and a 300 billion gallon intrusion of salt water from the Bay – the “big gulp” – which would shut down the State Water Project and Central Valley Project pumping plants.


Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern day issues.


Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants, rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation. Excellent for elementary school classroom use.

Maps & Posters

Invasive Species Poster Set

One copy of the Space Invaders and one copy of the Unwelcome Visitors poster for a special price.

Maps & Posters

Unwelcome Visitors

This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explains how non-native invasive animals can alter the natural ecosystem, leading to the demise of native animals. “Unwelcome Visitors” features photos and information on four such species – including the zerbra mussel – and explains the environmental and economic threats posed by these species.

Maps & Posters

Space Invaders

This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explains how non-native invasive plants can alter the natural ecosystem, leading to the demise of native plants and animals. “Space Invaders” features photos and information on six non-native plants that have caused widespread problems in the Bay-Delta Estuary and elsewhere.


Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project provides an overview of the California-funded and constructed State Water Project.

Video KBPS San Diego

Will New Water Delivery System End Water Wars?

Will New Water Delivery System End Water Wars?

Rita Schmidt Sudman, executive director of The Water Education Foundation, and Tom Wornham, vice chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority.

Video Water Education Foundation

Setting a Course: The California Bay Delta
60 minute version

The importance of the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to all Californians from Redding to San Diego is the theme of this 60-minute program hosted by actor Timothy Busfield of “thirtysomething.” Produced in 1998 and updated in 1999, the program is designed to teach the public about where and what the Delta is, its importance to farms, cities and the environment, the history of its development and the options now being discussed by CALFED – the joint state-federal government effort to solve water supply and environmental issues.

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Judge Wanger Rulings

Federal Judge Oliver Wanger overturned a federal scientific study that aimed to protect Delta smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Maps & Posters California Water Bundle

California Water Map
Updated December 2016

A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect gift for the water wonk in your life.

Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the state. On this updated version, it is easier to see California’s natural waterways and man-made reservoirs and aqueducts – including federally, state and locally funded projects – the wild and scenic rivers system, and natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects, wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado River.

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Delta Risk Management Strategy

Delta Risk Management Strategy

Overseen by the California Department of Water Resources, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Delta Risk Management Strategy evaluated the sustainability of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and assessed major risks from floods, seepage, subsidence and earthquakes, sea level rise and climate change.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Delta Conveyance: The Debate Continues
March/April 2009

The critical condition of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has prompted the question of how it can continue to serve as a source of water for 25 million people while remaining a viable ecosystem, agricultural community and growing residential center. Developing a “dual conveyance” system of continuing to use Delta waterways to convey water to the export pumps but also building a new pipeline or canal to move some water supplies around the Delta is an issue of great scrutiny.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Finding a Vision for the Delta
March/April 2008

Consider the array of problems facing the Sacramento- San Joaquin Delta for too long and the effect can be nearly overwhelming. Permanently altered more than a century ago, the estuary - arguably the only one of its kind – is an enigma to those outside its realm, a region embroiled in difficulties that resist simple, ready-made solutions.