Topic: Wetlands



Wetlands are among the most important ecosystems in the world. They produce high levels of oxygen, filter toxic chemicals out of water, reduce flooding and erosion and recharge groundwater. They also serve as critical habitat for wildlife, including a large percentage of plants and animals on California’s endangered species list.

As the state has grown into one of the world’s leading economies, Californians have developed and transformed the state’s marshes, swamps and tidal flats, losing as much as 90 percent of the original wetlands acreage—a greater percentage of loss than any other state in the nation.

While the conversion of wetlands has slowed, the loss in California is significant and it affects a range of factors from water quality to quality of life.

Wetlands still remain in every part of the state, with the greatest concentration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its watershed, which includes the Central Valley. The Delta wetlands are especially important because they are part of the vast complex of waterways that provide two-thirds of California’s drinking water.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

San Francisco Bay restoration plan updated amid funding surge

Proponents of a new plan to rehabilitate San Francisco Bay say they hope to make significant gains in the coming years because of millions of dollars in new federal funds. The estuary, the largest on the west coast of North America, covers 60,000 square miles from the foot of the Sierra Nevada to the Golden Gate, including the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The estuary and the surrounding mountains, which hold about half of California’s water supply, are home to highly diverse ecosystems, including 100 endangered and threatened species, and support a multi-billion dollar economy.

Aquafornia news GV Wire

Morro Bay lands $4.5m in federal funding. How will it be used?

The Morro Bay National Estuary Program is getting $4.5 million over five years to protect and restore water quality and habitat, the Biden administration announced on Monday. The funding comes from the bipartisan $978 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that Biden signed last November.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Partnership

Report: San Francisco Estuary Blueprint 2022

In the past few years, the San Francisco Estuary region has confronted epic wildfires, historic rainfall intensity and flooding, and chronic drought. The whiplash of these events has confirmed that climate change has already begun to impact human and wildlife communities from Sacramento to San Francisco, and beyond. [T]he pervasive, horrific violence against Black, Brown, and Asian and Asian-American people has amplified long-term calls for racial justice, galvanizing new commitments to address historic and present inequity through every thread of our social fabric. These events have set the context for the multi-stakeholder process that updates the San Francisco Estuary Blueprint.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Talks on Highway 37’s future underway as sea-level threat looms

For generations, the 21-mile route linking Marin County and Vallejo has been essential for commuters and travelers. Now Highway 37 has become something more — a centerpiece in a growing debate on how the Bay Area and California should respond to climate change and when politicians should bite the bullet to spend the billions of dollars needed to deal with it. Caltrans is studying a plan to widen a traffic-prone, 10-mile stretch of the highway at a cost of nearly half a billion dollars while it comes up with a longer-term fix. But some advocates say they should skip that step while significant funding is available and do what all parties agree will eventually need to be done by elevating the road.

Aquafornia news Field & Stream

These 4 people are trying to save the Klamath River

The Klamath Basin is one of the most iconic watersheds in North America. It’s also one of the most troubled. The basin, which spans 15,751 square miles along the remote California-Oregon border, was once considered the “Everglades of the West” for its network of more than 440,000 acres of wetlands. … From a tribal lawyer laser-focused on protecting her people’s salmon-fishing traditions to a biologist doing everything he can to preserve the remnants of the basin’s wetlands, these are the people fighting to return the Klamath to its former glory. This is their river.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Bay Area entrepreneur envisions new purposes for land, ways to save planet

One day while [civil engineer James Levine] was looking out at the bay from his Emeryville office, Levine was struck by the steep unnatural riprap shoreline surrounding most of the bay that discourage wildlife from gathering there. He also thought about the many tons of sediment that needed to be dredged from the bay so that big ships could pass — and what he could do with that fill to encourage wildlife habitat elsewhere. Thus was born the Montezuma Wetlands Project in Solano County, a private initiative begun in the early 2000s that addresses two problems: the historic loss of wetlands and how one can responsibly dispose of millions of cubic yards of sediments dredged annually from San Francisco Bay Area ports, harbors and channels.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

‘Little point’ to restarting Trump water case, judge says

Democratic-led states, tribes, and conservation groups will not see a Trump-era water rule declared invalid before the Ninth Circuit decides the issue or the EPA issues a new rule, a federal judge in California ruled. The plaintiffs wanted the US District Court for the Northern District of California to resume their lawsuit over the Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule issued in 2020 that they said unlawfully restricted states’ and tribes’ ability to reject water polluting projects. But Judge William Alsup questioned the point of moving forward when the Environmental Protection Agency said it would “eviscerate” the rule anyway. 

Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

EPA adds $132M in funding to national estuary programs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued guidance July 26 for place-based projects using $132 million in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds being distributed via its National Estuary Program. The NEP, which started in 1987, funds water quality and ecological integrity recovery projects at 28 estuaries along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts, plus Puerto Rico, considered to be of “national significance.” … Local program directors detailed funding plans in a statement, including building defenses in California’s Santa Monica Bay area against sea level rise …

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Buena Vista Lagoon project gets $1 million from state

State Fish and Wildlife Department officials have awarded a $1 million grant to the San Diego Association of Governments for planning the restoration of the Buena Vista Lagoon at the Oceanside-Carlsbad border.  The $1 million announced last month comes on top of $3 million the state Wildlife Conservation Board awarded in December to SANDAG, which oversees planning and contracting for the proposed cleanup of the stagnant 220-acre lagoon.  The new grant gives the agency about half the money it needs to finish the engineering and design work that must be completed before the project can be offered for construction bids. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Climate change and drought can be felled by beavers

Millions of highly skilled environmental engineers stand ready to make our continent more resilient to climate change. They restore wetlands that absorb carbon, store water, filter pollution and clean and cool waters for salmon and trout. They are recognized around the world for helping to reduce wildfire risk. Scientists have valued their environmental services at close to $179,000 per square mile annually. And they work for free. Our ally in mitigating and adapting to climate change across the West could be a paddle-tailed rodent: the North American beaver.
-Written by Chris Jordan, mathematical biology and systems monitoring program manager at NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center; and Emily Fairfax, an assistant professor of environmental science and resource management at Cal State Channel Islands.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News release: EPA announces unprecedented $29 million for San Francisco Bay watershed restoration grants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting applications for approximately $29 million in grants, the largest annual allocation ever, to protect and restore San Francisco Bay watersheds and wetlands. The agency is announcing two separate funding opportunities with a due date for applications of September 20, 2022. … The San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund (SFBWQIF), a competitive grant program EPA has administered since 2008, has already provided $71 million over the years in 59 grant awards. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Going, going….water at some of Bakersfield’s most popular parks is almost gone

The lake at the Park at River Walk is fast disappearing, as are the Truxtun Lakes and some other city-owned water features. Blame the drought. The City of Bakersfield Water Resources Department has cut off flows to city-owned recreation and water recharge facilities to hold on to what little surface water it’s receiving from the dwindling Kern River for drinking water, according to Daniel Maldonado, a water planner with the department. … Local resident Calletano Guiterrez understood the city has to contend with the drought but hoped at least some water could be set aside for what he said he and his family have come to love about Bakersfield.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Roseville Today

560 acres of vernal pools and wetlands in Sheridan approved for conservation

Over 560 acres of vernal pools and wetlands are planned for conservation in Sheridan, with the Placer County Board of Supervisors recently approving the use of $445,000 of Placer Legacy open space funds. The funding will be combined with a $5,244,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a $1,311,000 grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board to acquire a portion of the Riosa Redwing Ranch property.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Two tidal habitat restoration projects in the works to protect Delta smelt

Environmental agencies on the local, state and federal levels are commending the efforts of two tidal habitat restoration projects in Solano County. The California Department of Water Resources is aiming to preserve smelt and other fish populations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by improving food sources and habitat conditions in the Suisun Marsh, specifically by restoring Bradmoor Island and Arnold Slough. The 161-acre restoration project in Arnold Slough, located in eastern Suisun Marsh, was recently completed in the fall of 2021.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Pittsburg’s Marsh Fire getting doused with 10 to 20 million gallons of water

Firefighters and air quality experts are cautiously optimistic that a plan to flood the stubborn Marsh Fire with 10 million to 20 million gallons of water could finally end a two-month nightmare for several eastern Contra Costa County cities perpetually shrouded in a fog of acrid smoke from the long-simmering blaze. ConFire crews flipped on three additional water pumps Wednesday, bringing to five the number of pumps pulling water from nearby Mallard Slough onto the 200-acre property outside Pittsburg, which has been burning since late May. 

Aquafornia news Reuters

Water battle in drought-plagued wildlife refuges ends in draw

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a 15-year plan for several drought-stricken wildlife refuges along the Oregon and California border against challenges by agribusiness and conservation groups alike. The three decisions by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals mark a stalemate in a century-old water war in the Klamath Basin, where a federal irrigation project to support farming began in 1906 and the nation’s first wildlife refuge was established in 1908. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2017 Comprehensive Conservation Plan drew fire from agribusiness for regulating farming practices in the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, while conservationists argued the restrictions did not go far enough.

Aquafornia news Pasadena Now

Drought doesn’t mean fewer mosquitoes

Southern California is experiencing a drought of historic proportions. In fact, some scientists are now referring to this uber-drought as “aridification.”  While droughts are thought of as somewhat temporary, aridification signals a whole new condition, one that Matthew Kirby, a paleoclimatologist and professor at California State University Fullerton, says, could mean living “under a permanent state of water conservation.” Meanwhile, while the summer months can mean mosquitos, a drought doesn’t necessarily mean that their threat is diminished. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Watch these films! Floodplains reconnected

It may seem counterintuitive in this very dry year to be thinking and talking about floodplains; yet, these years highlight the importance of the floodplain in the Sacramento Valley and the opportunities we have in all years–including critically dry years–to reactivate our floodplains as part of ridgetop to river mouth water management. To learn more about these opportunities, we encourage you to grab some popcorn and watch several award-winning films that explore how reconnecting our landscape with our vital rivers can have a profound impact on recovery of endangered fish and wildlife populations in harmony with our cities, rural communities and farms. 

Aquafornia news Eos

New research: Atmospheric rivers help coastal wetlands build up sediment

Extreme precipitation from hurricanes and atmospheric rivers can lead to increased flooding in the world’s coastal zones, where more than 630 million people reside. Tidal marshes act as important buffers in these areas, absorbing the initial impact of storm surges and strong winds. In addition, tidal marsh ecosystems rely on storm events to deposit sediments that help with marsh accretion. In a new study, Thorne et al. focused on tidal marsh accretion and elevation change in the San Francisco Bay after an atmospheric river event in 2016-2017. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: New state park could help California answer climate change

Los Angeles County has 25 state parks, recreation areas, historical sites and beaches. There are 24 more in Orange and San Diego counties. But in the eight counties of the San Joaquin Valley, which stretches from the Tehachapis to the northern edge of San Joaquin County, there are only 15 state sites, and only five of those are state parks.  That is about to change. In the budget just signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, enough money has been dedicated to start creating California’s first new state park since Fort Ord Dunes in Monterey County joined the system more than a decade ago.
-Written by Julie Rentner, president of River Partners, a nonprofit conservation organization; and Assemblymember Adam Gray, a Democrat representing Merced County and part of Stanislaus County, including Dos Rios Ranch.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation, DWR break ground on second phase of “Big Notch” fish passage project

When the flood protection plan for Sacramento was conceived and constructed, the aim was to divert Sacramento River flood flows away from the city. The plan was successful, but it did not provide much for the needs of  fish that migrate through the floodplain to connect with the river channel. … Fast forward to a warm summer day in 2022 as officials with federal, state, local agencies and Native American tribes gathered to break ground on the second phase of the largest floodplain salmon rearing habitat restoration in California history. Dubbed the “Big Notch” Project, the $190 million effort (partially funded by Reclamation) aims to improve 30,000-acres of floodplain habitat in the Yolo Bypass in Yolo County.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Law360

Groups say feds flubbed enviro permit on 400-home project

Two environmental groups asked a judge to block a permit for a 314-acre housing development in Chico, California, arguing that federal officials failed to consider its effect on seasonal wetlands … 

Aquafornia news Escalon Times

Waterfowl breeding survey results show steep decrease

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its 2022 waterfowl breeding population survey. The resulting data indicate the overall number of breeding ducks has decreased by 19 percent, including mallards that are the most abundant duck in the survey. … The full Breeding Population Survey Report, which can be found on the CDFW website, indicates the total number of ducks … is 30 percent below the long-term average. The estimated breeding population of mallards decreased from 239,830 in 2019 to 179,390 this year, which is below their long-term average. The decline is attributed to the ongoing drought and the loss of upland nesting habitat for ducks.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Utah’s Great Salt Lake hits new historic low amid drought in western US

The Great Salt Lake has hit a new historic low for the second time in less than a year, a dire milestone as the US west continues to weather a historic mega-drought. The Utah department of natural resources said in a news release on Monday that the Great Salt Lake dipped over the weekend to 4,190.1ft (1,277.1 meters). … The giant lake near Salt Lake City is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi. Its dwindling water levels have put millions of migrating birds at risk and threaten a lake-based economy that is worth an estimated $1.3bn in mineral extraction, brine shrimp and recreation. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Could Jersey Island be more than cow pastures?

A natural habitat for Delta waterfowl and wildlife, and more recently grazing cattle, Jersey Island in East Contra Costa County has remained largely undeveloped for more than a hundred years. Plans are percolating, though, that could turn it into a vacation getaway with a wave pool, sandy beaches, a wildlife refuge — and more — close to home. That’s what one entrepreneur/developer, Montezuma Water LLC, has in mind with a preliminary concept it has presented to the island’s owner, Ironhouse Sanitary District, which has been looking for ways to reduce its responsibilities for the surrounding levees and shed some of its expenses for an island it no longer needs.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: Groundbreaking celebrates California’s largest tidal habitat restoration project

[S]tate, federal, and local agencies gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the largest tidal habitat restoration project in California history. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Ecosystem Investment Partners (EIP) are teaming up on the Lookout Slough Tidal Habitat Restoration and Flood Improvement Project in Solano County. It is a multi-benefit effort to restore the site to a tidal wetland, creating habitat and producing food for Delta Smelt and other fish species while also creating new flood capacity in the Yolo Bypass and reducing overall flood risk in the Sacramento area.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Celebrating Reclamation District No. 108’s 150th anniversary

As far back as the 1870s, the people of Reclamation District 108 were faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, but they always seemed to find a resolu­tion to the problem before them. From building levees to corral the mighty Sacramento River, to pumping out millions of gallons of floodwater from the fields, to cre­ating unique irrigation systems to support crop growth, our ancestors uncovered innovative and sustainable solutions that we still use to this day.

Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

Bay restoration project gets $1M grant for flood control

A project to protect and restore more than 500 acres of critical shore area habitats in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park received a $1 million grant from the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, announced on Friday, June. 24. The grant will help fund the Strategy to Advance Flood Protection, Ecosystems and Recreation along San Francisco (SAFER) Bay Project, leading up to the preparation of an environmental impact report.

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Ring the alarm – Today’s water crisis isn’t a fire drill

News headlines in mid-June captured what Audubon’s Western Water team knows well: the Colorado River Basin and Great Salt Lake are in trouble—both facing historically unprecedented risks. Both may be headed towards ecological disasters, years in the making, the result of a pernicious combination of climate change aridifying the region and water management that does not adequately prioritize the environment. In the Colorado River Basin and at Great Salt Lake, warming temperatures and declining river flows threaten people and nature. And, we know there’s significant quality wildlife and bird habitat still worthy of attention and investments.

California Spent Decades Trying to Keep Central Valley Floods at Bay. Now It Looks to Welcome Them Back
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Floodplain restoration gets a policy and funding boost as interest grows in projects that bring multiple benefits to respond to climate change impacts

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.

Western Water By Alastair Bland

SIDEBAR: Creating A Floodplain Buffet for Salmon Smolts

Biologists have designed a variety of unique experiments in the past decade to demonstrate the benefits that floodplains provide for small fish. Tracking studies have used acoustic tags to show that chinook salmon smolts with access to inundated fields are more likely than their river-bound cohorts to reach the Pacific Ocean. This is because the richness of floodplains offers a vital buffet of nourishment on which young salmon can capitalize, supercharging their growth and leading to bigger, stronger smolts.

Water-Starved Colorado River Delta Gets Another Shot of Life from the River’s Flows
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Despite water shortages along the drought-stressed river, experimental flows resume in Mexico to revive trees and provide habitat for birds and wildlife

Water flowing into a Colorado River Delta restoration site in Mexico.Water is flowing once again to the Colorado River’s delta in Mexico, a vast region that was once a natural splendor before the iconic Western river was dammed and diverted at the turn of the last century, essentially turning the delta into a desert.

In 2012, the idea emerged that water could be intentionally sent down the river to inundate the delta floodplain and regenerate native cottonwood and willow trees, even in an overallocated river system. Ultimately, dedicated flows of river water were brokered under cooperative efforts by the U.S. and Mexican governments.

Western Water California Water Map By Gary Pitzer

Long Troubled Salton Sea May Finally Be Getting What it Most Needs: Action — And Money
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: California's largest lake could see millions in potential funding to supercharge improvements to address long-delayed habitat and dust suppression needs

A sunset along the shoreline of California's Salton Sea.State work to improve wildlife habitat and tamp down dust at California’s ailing Salton Sea is finally moving forward. Now the sea may be on the verge of getting the vital ingredient needed to supercharge those restoration efforts – money.

The shrinking desert lake has long been a trouble spot beset by rising salinity and unhealthy, lung-irritating dust blowing from its increasingly exposed bed. It shadows discussions of how to address the Colorado River’s two-decade-long drought because of its connection to the system. The lake is a festering health hazard to nearby residents, many of them impoverished, who struggle with elevated asthma risk as dust rises from the sea’s receding shoreline. 

Tour Nick Gray Jenn Bowles Layperson's Guide to the Delta

Bay-Delta Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - September 9

This tour guided participants on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.

Long Criticized For Inaction At Salton Sea, California Says It’s All-In On Effort To Preserve State’s Largest Lake
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Dust suppression, habitat are key elements in long-term plan to aid sea, whose ills have been a sore point in Colorado River management

The Salton Sea is a major nesting, wintering and stopover site for about 400 bird species. Out of sight and out of mind to most people, the Salton Sea in California’s far southeast corner has challenged policymakers and local agencies alike to save the desert lake from becoming a fetid, hyper-saline water body inhospitable to wildlife and surrounded by clouds of choking dust.

The sea’s problems stretch beyond its boundaries in Imperial and Riverside counties and threaten to undermine multistate management of the Colorado River. A 2019 Drought Contingency Plan for the Lower Colorado River Basin was briefly stalled when the Imperial Irrigation District, holding the river’s largest water allocation, balked at participating in the plan because, the district said, it ignored the problems of the Salton Sea.  

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 Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

‘Mission-Oriented’ Colorado River Veteran Takes the Helm as the US Commissioner of IBWC
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Jayne Harkins’ duties include collaboration with Mexico on Colorado River supply, water quality issues

Jayne Harkins, the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission.For the bulk of her career, Jayne Harkins has devoted her energy to issues associated with the management of the Colorado River, both with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and with the Colorado River Commission of Nevada.

Now her career is taking a different direction. Harkins, 58, was appointed by President Trump last August to take the helm of the United States section of the U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees myriad water matters between the two countries as they seek to sustainably manage the supply and water quality of the Colorado River, including its once-thriving Delta in Mexico, and other rivers the two countries share. She is the first woman to be named the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission for either the United States or Mexico in the commission’s 129-year history.

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 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 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 California Water Bundle Gary Pitzer

Statewide Water Bond Measures Could Have Californians Doing a Double-Take in 2018
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Two bond measures, worth $13B, would aid flood preparation, subsidence, Salton Sea and other water needs

San Joaquin Valley bridge rippled by subsidence  California voters may experience a sense of déjà vu this year when they are asked twice in the same year to consider water bonds — one in June, the other headed to the November ballot.

Both tackle a variety of water issues, from helping disadvantaged communities get clean drinking water to making flood management improvements. But they avoid more controversial proposals, such as new surface storage, and they propose to do some very different things to appeal to different constituencies.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to the Delta

ON THE ROAD: Park Near Historic Levee Rupture Offers Glimpse of Old Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
Big Break Regional Shoreline will be a stop on Bay-Delta Tour May 16-18

Visitors explore a large, three-dimensional map of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley. Along the banks of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Oakley, about 50 miles southwest of Sacramento, is a park that harkens back to the days when the Delta lured Native Americans, Spanish explorers, French fur trappers, and later farmers to its abundant wildlife and rich soil.

That historical Delta was an enormous marsh linked to the two freshwater rivers entering from the north and south, and tidal flows coming from the San Francisco Bay. After the Gold Rush, settlers began building levees and farms, changing the landscape and altering the habitat.

Western Water Excerpt Jenn Bowles

Two Countries, One River: Crafting a New Agreement
Fall 2016

As vital as the Colorado River is to the United States and Mexico, so is the ongoing process by which the two countries develop unique agreements to better manage the river and balance future competing needs.

The prospect is challenging. The river is over allocated as urban areas and farmers seek to stretch every drop of their respective supplies. Since a historic treaty between the two countries was signed in 1944, the United States and Mexico have periodically added a series of arrangements to the treaty called minutes that aim to strengthen the binational ties while addressing important water supply, water quality and environmental concerns.


Looking to the Source: Watersheds of the Sierra Nevada
Published 2011

This 28-page report describes the watersheds of the Sierra Nevada region and details their importance to California’s overall water picture. It describes the region’s issues and challenges, including healthy forests, catastrophic fire, recreational impacts, climate change, development and land use.

The report also discusses the importance of protecting and restoring watersheds in order to retain water quality and enhance quantity. Examples and case studies are included.


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.


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.


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.


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

Klamath River Watershed Map
Published 2011

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The map text explains the many issues facing this vast, 15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration; agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement, and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Maps & Posters

Carson River Basin Map
Published 2006

A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin. Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin Area Office.

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.


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.

Aquapedia background Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map


Sacramento National Wildlife RefugeWetlands are among the most important and hardest-working ecosystems in the world, rivaling rain forests and coral reefs in productivity of life. 

Aquapedia background California Water Map Layperson's Guide to California Water

Pacific Flyway

The Pacific Flyway is one of four major North American migration routes for birds, especially waterfowl, and extends from Alaska and Canada, through California, to Mexico and South America. Each year, birds follow ancestral patterns as they travel the flyway on their annual north-south migration. Along the way, they need stopover sites such as wetlands with suitable habitat and food supplies. In California, 90 percent of historic wetlands have been lost.

Aquapedia background

Central Valley Wetlands and Riparian Habitat

In the Central Valley, wetlands—partly or seasonally saturated land that supports aquatic life and distinct ecosystems— provide critical habitat for a variety of wildlife.

Western Water Magazine

An Era of New Partnerships on the Colorado River
November/December 2013

This printed issue of Western Water examines how the various stakeholders have begun working together to meet the planning challenges for the Colorado River Basin, including agreements with Mexico, increased use of conservation and water marketing, and the goal of accomplishing binational environmental restoration and water-sharing programs.

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

Just Add Water? Restoring the Colorado River Delta
September/October 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines the Colorado River Delta, its ecological significance and the lengths to which international, state and local efforts are targeted and achieving environmental restoration while recognizing the needs of the entire river’s many users.