Topic: Sacramento San Joaquin Delta

Overview

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource.

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Calif. zeroes out water allocation for Valley farmers, will only deliver minimum supplies to cities

California water regulators will be delivering the bare minimum of water supplies to the state’s municipalities via the State Water Project, the Department of Water Resources announced to water users on Wednesday. For Valley farmers, who hoped for an ounce of good news related to water supplies heading into 2022, they will see a zero-percent water allocation from state water agencies to start the year. It’s the first time in the history of the State Water Project for officials to kick off a water year with a zero initial allocation.

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Aquafornia news The Press

Water agency amends plans for Delta Tunnel

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) amended a federal permit application last week to change to the preferred tunnel route for the proposed Delta Conveyance Project (DCP), a move that has Delta advocates questioning DWR’s long-term plans for the South Delta. The agency said the move was necessary to align the federal permit application – known as a Section 404 and filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – and a draft environmental impact report that is currently being prepared by DWR. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California water districts will get no requested supplies from the state

California water agencies that serve 27 million residents and 750,000 acres of farmland won’t get any of the water they’ve requested from the state heading into 2022 other than what’s needed for critical health and safety, state officials announced Wednesday. It’s the earliest date the Department of Water Resources has issued a 0% water allocation, a milestone that reflects the dire conditions in California as drought continues to grip the nation’s most populous state and reservoirs sit at historically low levels. 

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Ahead of Thanksgiving, Biden, Newsom admin. press judge to adopt Calif. water restrictions

A coordinated effort between the Biden and Newsom administrations to drop two-year-old environmental rules governing water deliveries to the Central Valley and Southern California reached a new benchmark two days before Thanksgiving. In a flurry of pre-holiday filings, Federal officials, in consultation with Newsom administration officials, requested that a Fresno-based Federal judge adopt a hastily-arranged plan to govern water pumping in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Opinion: Harvesting rainwater in your garden helps with drought recovery

The rainy season can be a mixed blessing. If your home garden landscape is well designed to maximize rainwater storage, then rain is a blessing. If your landscape is poorly designed, or has too much impervious surfaces, then rain can be a curse. Whatever your situation, however, take heart! Small adjustments can be made to prepare for the next storm, though some projects will take longer and require work done in the dry season.
-Written by Kathy Grant.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: Delta Conveyance project fisheries informational webinar highlights

As planning and environmental review efforts continue to support the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) determination of whether a single tunnel option to modernize Delta conveyance should be approved, an important component of the environmental review process is to assess environmental resource impacts within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta’s (Delta) estuary.

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Aquafornia news Food and Environment Reporting Network

Opinion: Back Forty — A crash course in California water politics

When farmers turned the San Joaquin Valley into an agricultural powerhouse in the 20th century, they dammed and drained its central river … siphoned water from Northern California’s river systems and brought it south to thirsty farmland. … Released on streaming platforms earlier this month, [the documentary film] River’s End is an urgent crash course on the water wars that are shaping California—and, by extension, the U.S. food system. Viewers get a primer on California’s major rivers and salmon runs, then watch as agribusiness—and the city of Los Angeles—wreak havoc on them, with moneyed interests seizing water through lobbying and shady deals.
–Written by Teresa Cotsirilos, a staff writer and producer at FERN, where she covers food systems, labor, and climate change in the Western US.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR completes first phase of Dutch Slough Tidal Restoration Project

As part of an ongoing effort to protect and restore critical habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has restored more than half of the 1,187 acres of former grazing and dairy lands into rich habitat for fish and wildlife as part of the Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project. The project is one of the largest multi-benefit freshwater tidal marsh restoration efforts implemented.

Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

Bechtel, Nautilus team to build unique floating data centers

The first floating data center built for Nautilus Data Technologies is getting a second-phase expansion in Stockton, Calif., while the firm accelerates plans for it and Bechtel to engineer and construct others in Maine and possibly Ireland. The multi-year program allows Nautilus to deploy its water-based system for sustainable and efficient data center cooling, while Bechtel focuses on development and construction. … Nautilus completed the floating 7-MW scalable Stockton 1 Data Center, located on a barge on the San Joaquin River, last year before it signed an agreement in June with Bechtel. 

Aquafornia news Western Water

California spent decades trying to keep Central Valley floods at bay. Now it looks to welcome them back

Land and waterway managers labored hard over the course of a century to control California’s unruly rivers by building dams and levees to slow and contain their water. Now, farmers, environmentalists and agencies are undoing some of that work as part of an accelerating campaign to restore the state’s major floodplains. … The hope, shared by stakeholders who have traditionally fought over water and land, is to rebuild habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife while simultaneously providing benefits, like improved flood protection and groundwater recharge, for towns and farms.

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Aquafornia news Red, Green, and Blue

Blog: Fishery biologist Tom Cannon: Delta smelt are “likely virtually extinct in the wild”

I have reported every year for over a decade on the results of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fall Midwater Trawl Survey. For the past three years, no Delta smelt, once the most abundant fish in the entire Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, have been found in this survey. None have been found in the first two months of the four-month survey this year either.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

With a grim outlook for salmon, California looks to upend the status quo in water policy

State officials have a “grim” outlook for California’s winter-run Chinook salmon along the Sacramento River. The deepening drought and rising temperatures are exhausting agency resources for managing the species to prevent extinction, and with long-term forecasts predicting little precipitation for Northern California in the months ahead, the state is making plans for worst-case scenarios and an emergency overhaul of water management in California.

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Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Supervisors approve pact with state to move forward on Lookout Slough project

The group that helped force the state to revisit recreational opportunities in the Liberty Island area of Solano County, failed Tuesday to get the Board of Supervisors to do the same. Taylor Dahlke, the spokesman for Liberty Island Access, called into the board meeting and asked the supervisors to table a decision on a memorandum of understanding with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Water Resources until more specific recreation commitments from the state are included in the agreement – specifically land access. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Which species will survive? Climate change enhances the vulnerability of California freshwater fishes to severe drought

As I write this on an October weekend, rain is falling steadily in Davis and has been for most of the day. This is the first real rain we have had in over seven months. But it is not the end of the drought. Multiple storms are needed. The landscape is a dry sponge, reservoirs are empty, water rationing is in place or expected to be, and aquatic species are in decline.

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Aquafornia news Bay Nature

How California policy harms beavers

The beaver in Holsworth’s neighborhood created a habitat that’s in critical demand in drought-stricken California. Over the last couple of decades, researchers have amassed evidence of beaver’ benefits in ecological restoration and of their native role in the state’s natural landscape. But the California Department of Fish and Wildlife still operates under beaver legislation that hasn’t substantially changed since 1981. Under these regulations, property owners can only remove the dams or kill the beaver. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Bay Delta Science Conference: The science of non-native species in a dynamic Delta

The San Francisco Bay-Delta is one of the most invaded estuaries in the world, with non-native species now a large part of the Delta’s ecosystem. The invasion of new non-native species threatens the achievement of the coequal goal of “protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem.” Reducing the impact of non-native species is one of the core strategies called for in the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan.

Aquafornia news U.C. Santa Cruz

New research: Survivor salmon that withstand drought and ocean warming provide a lifeline for California Chinook

In drought years and when marine heat waves warm the Pacific Ocean, late-migrating juvenile spring-run Chinook salmon of California’s Central Valley are the ultimate survivors. They are among the few salmon that survive in those difficult years and return to spawning rivers to keep their populations alive, according to a study published October 28 in Nature Climate Change.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Storms bring pause for state drought orders in Modesto and beyond. They could return

The recent storms allowed California to suspend the drought curtailment orders that had been imposed during the summer. Cities and irrigation districts now are free to capture river runoff that had been unavailable because of the orders. Officials warned that they could fall back into place if the state gets another stretch of dry weather.

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Aquafornia news KGET 17 - Bakersfield

Rep. Valadao requests emergency declarations from Biden and Newsom in the wake of drought and storms

Congressman David Valadao (R-21) sent a letter signed by several other congress members requesting federal and state emergency declarations in the wake of the drought and recent storms in California. Valadao, with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-23) and other Republican representatives sent a letter to President Biden and Governor Newsom requesting that all limitations on Delta pump operations be lifted to allow water from the recent storm to be used to help the many farms that have been devastated by the drought.

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

New suit attempts to squash late-calendar water transfers to Valley during drought

Environmental advocates and a pair of Delta-centric water agencies launched a suit seeking to halt water transfers to San Joaquin Valley water users occurring in the late fall. It’s the latest in a half-decade of litigation aimed at stopping all water transfers – a key drought-era tool for parched Valley water users – from water users awash with water north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

New research: Fish eyes – the hidden diet journal

It is strange to think of an eye as a diet journal, but a fish’s eye can tell much about what it has been eating at each point in its life. If we know what a fish has been eating and when, then we can figure out where a fish has been. You just need to know where to look and how to understand what the eye is telling you. This approach formed the basis for our publication Advancing diet reconstruction in fish eye lenses in Methods in Ecology and Evolution. In this study, we used stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur in fish eyes to better understand diet and habitat history of juvenile and adult Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha).

MWD’s Jeff Kightlinger Reflects On Building Big Things, Essential Partnerships and His Hopes For the Delta
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Veteran Water Boss, Retiring After 25 Years With SoCal Water Giant, Discusses ‘Permanent’ Drought, Conservation Gains & the Struggling Colorado River

Jeff Kightlinger, longtime general manager of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.When you oversee the largest supplier of treated water in the United States, you tend to think big.

Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for the last 15 years, has focused on diversifying his agency’s water supply and building security through investment. That means looking beyond MWD’s borders to ensure the reliable delivery of water to two-thirds of California’s population.

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 Layperson's Guide to the Delta By Gary Pitzer

Is Ecosystem Change in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Outpacing the Ability of Science to Keep Up?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Science panel argues for a new approach to make research nimbler and more forward-looking to improve management in the ailing Delta

Floating vegetation such as water hyacinth has expanded in the Delta in recent years, choking waterways like the one in the bottom of this photo.Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain though it into the Pacific Ocean.

Lately, however, scientists say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive, fueled in part by climate change, and is limiting the ability of science and Delta water managers to keep up. The rapid pace of upheaval demands a new way of conducting science and managing water in the troubled estuary.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Framework for Agreements to Aid Health of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a Starting Point With An Uncertain End
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Voluntary agreement discussions continue despite court fights, state-federal conflicts and skepticism among some water users and environmental groups

Aerial image of the Sacramento-San Joaquin DeltaVoluntary agreements in California have been touted as an innovative and flexible way to improve environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the rivers that feed it. The goal is to provide river flows and habitat for fish while still allowing enough water to be diverted for farms and cities in a way that satisfies state regulators.

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.

Announcement

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.

Western Water California Water Map

Your Don’t-Miss Roundup of Summer Reading From Western Water

Dear Western Water reader, 

Clockwise, from top: Lake Powell, on a drought-stressed Colorado River; Subsidence-affected bridge over the Friant-Kern Canal in the San Joaquin Valley;  A homeless camp along the Sacramento River near Old Town Sacramento; Water from a desalination plant in Southern California.Summer is a good time to take a break, relax and enjoy some of the great beaches, waterways and watersheds around California and the West. We hope you’re getting a chance to do plenty of that this July.

But in the weekly sprint through work, it’s easy to miss some interesting nuggets you might want to read. So while we’re taking a publishing break to work on other water articles planned for later this year, we want to help you catch up on Western Water stories from the first half of this year that you might have missed. 

Announcement

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 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 Douglas E. Beeman 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.

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.

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to the Delta

Estuary

Suisun Marsh, part of the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, is the largest contiguous brackish water marsh on the West Coast of North America.Estuaries are places where fresh and salt water mix, usually at the point where a river enters the ocean. They are the meeting point between riverine environments and the sea, with a combination of tides, waves, salinity, fresh water flow and sediment. The constant churning means there are elevated levels of nutrients, making estuaries highly productive natural habitats.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Delta Report Highlights Need to Restore Legacy Processes

Understanding the importance of the Bay-Delta ecosystem and working to restore it means grasping the scope of what it once was.

That’s the takeaway message of a report released Nov. 14 by the San Francisco Estuary Institute.

The report, “A Delta Renewed,” is the latest in a series sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). Written by several authors, the report says there is “cause for hope” to achieving large-scale Delta restoration in a way that supports people, farms and the environment. SFEI calls itself “one of California’s premier aquatic and ecosystem science institutes.”

Aquapedia background

Zooplankton

Examples of zooplanktonZooplankton, which are floating aquatic microorganisms too small and weak to swim against currents, are are important food sources for many fish species in the Delta such as salmon, sturgeon and Delta smelt.

Western Water Excerpt Jennifer Bowles

Finding the Right Balance: Managing Delta Salinity in Drought
September/October 2014

In wet years, dry years and every type of water year in between, the daily intrusion and retreat of salinity in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a constant pattern.

The cycle of ebb and flood is the defining nature of an estuary and prior to its transformation into an agricul­tural tract in the mid-19th century, the Delta was a freshwater marsh with plants, birds, fish and wildlife that thrived on the edge of the saltwater/freshwater interface.

Video

Overcoming the Deluge: California’s Plan for Managing Floods (DVD)

This 30-minute documentary, produced in 2011, explores the past, present and future of flood management in California’s Central Valley. It features stories from residents who have experienced the devastating effects of a California flood firsthand. Interviews with long-time Central Valley water experts from California Department of Water Resources (FloodSAFE), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Central Valley Flood Management Program and environmental groups are featured as they discuss current efforts to improve the state’s 150-year old flood protection system and develop a sustainable, integrated, holistic flood management plan for the Central Valley.

Video

Restoring a River: Voices of the San Joaquin

This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an overview of the geography and history of the river, historical and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was agreed to.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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

San Joaquin River Restoration Map
Published 2012

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, features a map of the San Joaquin River. The map text focuses on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, which aims to restore flows and populations of Chinook salmon to the river below Friant Dam to its confluence with the Merced River. The text discusses the history of the program, its goals and ongoing challenges with implementation. 

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.

Publication

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.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Flood Management
Updated 2009

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Flood Management explains the physical flood control system, including levees; discusses previous flood events (including the 1997 flooding); explores issues of floodplain management and development; provides an overview of flood forecasting; and outlines ongoing flood control projects. 

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use. New in this 10th edition of the guide is a section on the human need for water. 

Publication

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).

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta, its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.

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.

Photo gallery

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Brannan Island
Aquapedia background

San Luis Drain

The San Luis Drain centers on the controversial idea of funneling agriculture drainage water for discharge in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquapedia background

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Proposals

There are multiple proposals for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta underway, though a decision on the future of the Delta is still far from a foregone conclusion.

Unlike past planning efforts that focused primarily on water resource issues and the ecosystem, some current efforts to revitalize the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta include:

  • land use planning
  • recreation
  • flood management and energy
  • rail and transportation infrastructure

How— or if—all these competing demands can be accommodated is an open question.

Aquapedia background

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Litigation

For more than 30 years, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been embroiled in continuing controversy over the struggle to restore the faltering ecosystem while maintaining its role as the hub of the state’s water supply.

Lawsuits and counter lawsuits have been filed, while environmentalists and water users continue to clash over  the amount of water that can be safely exported from the region.

Aquapedia background

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Levees

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Levees

Roughly 1,115 miles of levees protect farms, cities, schools and people in and around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a crucial conduit for California’s overall water supply. But the Delta’s levees are vulnerable to failure due to floods, earthquakes and rising sea levels brought about by climate change. A widespread failure could imperil the state’s water supply.

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Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Land Use and Boundaries

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta includes approximately 500,000 acres of waterways, levees and farmed lands extending over portions of six counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo.

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Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Inflow Outflow

The fresh water inflow and outflow of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is critical to its vitality and survival.

Freshwater flows from the Delta meets saltwater from the ocean near Suisun Marsh located to the east of San Francisco Bay. Suisun Marsh and adjoining bays are the brackish transition between fresh and salt water. But the location of that transition is not fixed.

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Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Cross Channel

The 6,000-foot Delta Cross Channel diverts water from the Sacramento River into a branch of the Mokelumne River, where it follows natural channels for about 50 miles to the Jones Pumping Plant intake channel. Located near the State Water Project’s Harvey O.

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Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Chronology

Historic sketch of laborers building a levee in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

1772 First recorded sighting of the Bay Delta by Spanish explorers.

1849 Settlers begin farming in the Delta.

1861 Reclamation District Act authorized, allowing drainage of Delta lands and construction of sturdier flood control levees.

1879 The striped bass is brought by rail from the East Coast to the Delta.

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Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Canal/Tunnel Proposals

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Canal/Tunnel Proposals

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been the hub of California’s water system for more than 50 years and along the way water experts have struggled to balance the many competing demands placed on the estuary—the largest freshwater tidal estuary on the West Coast.

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Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Salinity

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta always has been at the mercy of river flows and brackish tides.

Before human intervention, salty ocean water from the San Francisco Bay flooded the vast Delta marshes during dry summers when mountain runoff ebbed. Then, during winter, heavy runoff from the mountains repelled sea water intrusion.

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. It is the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the west coast of the Americas, providing important habitat for birds on the Pacific Flyway and for fish that live in or pass through the Delta. It also the hub of California’s two largest surface water delivery projects, the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. The Delta provides a portion of the drinking water for 29 million Californians and irrigation water for large portions of the state’s $50 billion agricultural industry.

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Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Water Distribution

The majority of people, farms and businesses in California depend on water transported through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Fish and Wildlife

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta supports more than 55 fish species and more than 750 plant and wildlife species.

Over times, the home of these species-the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem-has been impacted for many decades by human activities, such as gold mining, flood protection and land reclamation. Along the way, more than 200 exotic species have been intentionally or accidentally introduced.

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Monterey Amendment

The Monterey Amendment, a 1994 pact between Department of Water Resources and State Water Project contractors, helped ease environmental stresses on the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta.

As part of large-scale restructuring of water supply contracts, the Monterey Amendment allowed for storage of excess flows during wet years in groundwater banks and surface storage reservoir. This stored water could then be used later during dry periods or to help the Delta.

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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.

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Invasive Species

Invasive water hyacinth surrounds docks and boats in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Invasive species, also known as exotics, are plants, animals, insects and aquatic species introduced into non-native habitats.

Often, invasive species travel to non-native areas by ship, either in ballast water released into harbors or attached to the sides of boats. From there, introduced species can then spread and significantly alter ecosystems and the natural food chain as they go. Another example of non-native species introduction is the dumping of aquarium fish into waterways.

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Environmental Issues and Water

Environmental concerns have closely followed California’s development of water resources since its earliest days as a state.

Early miners harnessed water to dislodge gold through hydraulic mining. Debris resulting from these mining practices washed down in rivers and streams, choking them and harming aquatic life and causing flooding.

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Delta-Mendota Canal

Delta-Mendota Canal

The117-mile long Delta-Mendota Canal in central California delivers water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the San Joaquin Valley. It is part of the Central Valley Project.

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Delta Stewardship Council

The Delta Stewardship Council was created as an independent state agency in 2009 to achieve California’s coequal goals for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of providing a more reliable water supply for the state and protecting, restoring and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. 

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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.

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Delta Pumping Plant Fish Protection Agreement

The Delta Pumping Plant Fish Protection Agreement stems from an early effort to balance the needs of fish protection and State Water Project operations.  Negotiated in the mid-1980s, the agreement foreshadowed future battles over fish protection and pumping. [See also Sacramento-San Joaquin 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.

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Contra Costa Canal

Construction began in 1937 to build the Contra Costa Canal, the first part of the federal Central Valley Project.  The Contra Costa Canal runs from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where it draws its water near Knightsen, to the eastern and central parts of Contra Costa County. It is about 30 miles from San Francisco.

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California Aqueduct

The California Aqueduct, a critical part of the State Water Project, carries water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Deltato the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

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Agricultural Drainage and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Few regions are as important to California water as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers converge to discharge into San Francisco Bay.

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.

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

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 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 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

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 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.

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

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

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.

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The CALFED Plan: Making it Happen
Jan/Feb 2004

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has been described as the “switching yard” of California ’s water delivery system, moving billions of gallons that supply the drinking water and irrigation for millions of people. When stakeholders signed the 1994 Bay-Delta Accord, it was a dual-purpose deal designed to preserve, protect and restore the ecosystem and increase water supply reliability.

Western Water Magazine

CALFED Plan: Making it Happen
January/February 2004

This issue of Western Water examines the extensive activity associated with the projects and issues related to the Napa proposal – from increasing the state’s pumping capacity to improvements in the south Delta to the creation of a lasting Environmental Water Account to addressing water quality concerns. As of press time, the proposal was far from finalized, undergoing review and possible revision by government agencies and stakeholders.

Western Water Magazine

CALFED Today: A Roundtable Discussion
September/October 2002

The release of the CALFED Record of Decision in 2000 marked a turning point in the multi-year effort to craft a Delta “fix” that addressed both environmental problems and water supply reliability. How to finance the many components within the plan and ensure the plan is implemented over the next 30 years is a major issue.