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 The Conversation

Beavers offer lessons about managing water in a changing climate, whether the challenge is drought or floods

It’s no accident that both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology claim the beaver (Castor canadensis) as their mascots. Renowned engineers, beavers seem able to dam any stream, building structures with logs and mud that can flood large areas. As climate change causes extreme storms in some areas and intense drought in others, scientists are finding that beavers’ small-scale natural interventions are valuable. In dry areas, beaver ponds restore moisture to the soil; in wet zones, their dams and ponds can help to slow floodwaters. 

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Highway 37 could be fully underwater as soon as 2040

California State Route 37, the major throughway that bridges the divide between Highway 101 and Interstate 80 and serves thousands of drivers daily in the North Bay, is in dire straits. A recent dispatch from the California Department of Transportation warns that nearly the entire route — spanning Novato to Vallejo — could be “permanently submerged” as soon as 2040 by increasing weather crises and rising sea levels caused by climate change. Its proximity to the San Pablo Bay makes this route especially vulnerable. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District News Stories

News release: Construction slowed by December rains, but on the bright side …

Dry conditions in California are traditionally a benefit for construction companies looking to continue work through the winter season. This year, however, drought-stricken California received desperately needed rains and snowfall … in abundance. That’s good news for the state, not so good for our crews looking to continue work on the Natomas Reach B project. December storms dropped so much water, that areas of Reach B’s construction site have been turned into not just puddles, but mini-lakes …

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Rice farmers enlisted to sustain Pacific Flyway birds

Sixth-generation rice grower Jeff Gallagher is perpetually surrounded by birds on the Sutter County farm that has been in his family since 1872. The soundtrack of his life is the din caused by the itinerant visitors—nasal honks of wild geese, hisses of sandhill cranes and other bird chatter at his 4,000-acre ranch in Rio Oso, a rice-farming region north of Sacramento. … Gallagher is doing his part to preserve it by enlisting in a new program to flood rice fields for wildlife. It is designed to protect bird habitat in California’s Central Valley over the next 10 years. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: A freezer full of eyeballs (and other oddities) animate the quest to save California’s salmon

Carson Jeffres is a senior researcher and lab director at UC Davis’s Center for Watershed Sciences. For over 20 years, he’s studied how native fish utilize and benefit from restored habitats in both Brazil and California. His current research focuses on the recovery of salmon populations in California. We asked him to update us about the effort to save this iconic, embattled fish.

Aquafornia news The Good Men Project

“A generational historic struggle to regain our water”

A riverbed that has been parched since the end of the 19th century — a portion of the historic lifeblood of the Gila River Indian Community — is now coursing again with water, luring things like cattails and birds back to its shores. … The revival of this small segment of the 649-mile (1045-kilometer) Gila River, which has served the tribes that make up the Gila River Indian Community — the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and the Pee-Posh (Maricopa) — for roughly 2,000 years, was an added benefit of a grassroots infrastructure overhaul, known as “managed aquifer recharge,” or MAR, which aimed to restore the local groundwater basin. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Act policy could spur widespread disarray

The Biden administration last week quietly and abruptly announced that developers can no longer rely on decisions made under a high-profile Trump-era Clean Water Act rule about which waters are federally protected to obtain new permits. Legal experts say the move could have far-reaching effects throughout the building, mining and agricultural sectors. At issue is a Jan. 5 post on the Army Corps of Engineers website explaining the agency will “not rely on” an approved “jurisdictional determination” issued under the Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule “in making a new permit decision.”

Aquafornia news Westside Connect

Work on Newman Conservation Area advances

The plan for the Newman Community Conservation Area, south of Newman, is moving forward, with city officials preparing to bid out some projects and search for funding on others. The Newman Community Conservation Area is planned for city-owned property that is north of Brazo Road and east of Canal School Road in Merced County. The vision for the property includes wetlands and a nature park with hiking trails. The plan has four key components for the property. The first area will be a 21-acre wetland complex that will be used to treat storm run-off from the city and surrounding ag lands. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Appeals court clears path for controversial wetlands housing

In a major victory for one of the Bay Area’s preeminent developers, a state appeals court has struck down an environmental challenge to plans to build 469 large houses near the edge of Newark’s wetlands, clearing a path for the controversial development to go forward. Though the project area could see flooding in the coming decades because of projected rising sea levels, and will remove some habitat of the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse, the Newark City Council approved The Sobrato Organization’s plans in November 2019, over the objections of some residents and environmental groups, who called the development “illogical and irresponsible.”

Aquafornia news KCET

Commentary: It’s complicated – Water and Los Angeles

A creek rises at my doorstep. My driveway is a spillway washed by surf I’ve never heard. An estuary of the Pacific Ocean flows between the basketball courts and the picnic shelter in my neighborhood park. Where I live is seven miles from the coast, but the sea laps its streets unseen. The Los Angeles County Flood Control District manages the network of catch basins, laterals, conduits and channels that puts my doorstep one step away from the open ocean. The network is for stormwater, but it also carries the daily runoff from more than 2,000 square miles of watershed.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The Pillars for Ridgetop to River Mouth Water Management in the Sacramento River Basin

The Northern California Water Association (NCWA) Board of Directors on January 5 adopted our Strategic Planning and 2022 Priorities. On behalf of the water leaders in this region, we look forward to working with our many partners in 2022 to cultivate a shared vision for a vibrant way of life in the Sacramento River Basin. We will continue to re-imagine our water system in the Sacramento River Basin as we work to harmonize our water priorities with state, federal, and other regions’ priorities and to advance ridgetop to river mouth water management and our collective goal of ensuring greater water and climate resilience throughout California for our communities, the economy, and the environment. 

Aquafornia news KSBW (Santa Cruz)

San Lorenzo River Lagoon gets $2.8M upgrade

The city of Santa Cruz is planning to start a multi-million dollar flood control project. It will address the area of the San Lorenzo River that flows into the main beach by the boardwalk. The project will help relieve constant flooding in that area when it rains. The flooding can be dangerous for people visiting the main beach and a nuisance. … The problem with the flooding started several years ago. 

Aquafornia news KQED

California court OKs controversial Newark housing plan along its climate-vulnerable wetlands

A California district court has sided with the city of Newark and developer The Sobrato Organization in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups who challenged a plan to build hundreds of two-story tract homes along fragile wetlands in Alameda County. Environmentalists said the dwellings would be built in a federal flood zone and could succumb to rising seas in coming decades, arguing that the project’s environmental review was inadequate.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing for fish and wildlife during a dry year in the Sacramento Valley – What did we learn in 2021?

As 2021 was shaping into the most challenging water year in recent history—with the driest and hottest conditions anyone could remember–water resources managers in the Sacramento Valley developed a “roadmap” in May, outlining plans to maximize habitat for fish in wildlife with the minimal water resources that were available.  At that time, water managers in every part of the Valley knew they were going to see substantial reductions in their water supplies and they were developing and implementing drought plans to manage the limited supplies available.  

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Diesel spill in Suisun ‘Backwaters’ cleaned up; Coast Guard looks into enforcement action

The Coast Guard contractor hired to clean up the diesel spill caused by a houseboat that sank in the Backwaters area of Suisun City has completed the work. … What remaining diesel fuel that may have escaped the immediate spill area, the Coast Guard reported, should have fully dissipated by Monday or Tuesday. Bob Ritchie, who is one of the closest neighbors to the site, said he thinks it will likely be more like months before it all goes away. He said parts of his property are still coated with fuel.

Aquafornia news TurnTo23 - Bakersfield

Central Valley wetlands have almost all disappeared

The Central Valley is known for oil and agriculture, but it’s also a desired destination for more than 100 million birds. That is because the wetlands that were here decades ago have made this area part of their migration pattern. Because of city growth, and climate change wetlands have almost all disappeared, but could there be a solution now that several state organizations are working to protect these bird habitats.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Companies want to grow seaweed in California to fight climate change. They’re held back by environmental regulations

It absorbs carbon. It reduces emissions on dairy farms. It can be used as food, fuel and fertilizer. It requires nothing but seawater and sunlight to grow. Seaweed has become a symbol of hope in mitigating climate change, and at least a half dozen companies are actively trying to farm it in California. They aim to be part of what’s called the blue economy, a movement to use the ocean’s resources in a sustainable, if not regenerative, way. But getting a permit to set up a seaweed farm in state waters involves navigating a permitting process that can take many years and cost many thousands of dollars.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

At California’s dying Salton Sea, signs of activity and cautious optimism

By October 2017, a handful of desert residents — including two Mecca high school students — were so fed up with a dearth of government progress on efforts to save the shrinking Salton Sea that they took matters into their own hands. They tried to hand-shovel a ditch to keep water flowing from the dwindling lake into the once beautiful harbor in front of the North Shore Yacht Club. “We figured we could keep water in there for another six months at least,” said Tom Sephton, a longtime Brawley resident and local businessman, who like many is captivated by California’s largest water body.  

Aquafornia news SF Gate

The dirty business of wetlands restoration

On Oct. 29, the waters of the Suisun Bay breached the levee along the northern shoreline of Martinez and flowed into the Pacheco Marsh. The breach was the culmination of a process that took 18 years, $24 million in funds, and dirt. Lots of dirt. … Like the Pacheco Marsh, many of the Bay Area’s coastal wetlands are degraded after decades of dredging, draining and construction activity. As sea levels rise, restoring them could be a long-term solution to build resilience against flooding, but acquiring enough sediment is proving to be an issue for some restoration teams.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Massive wetland restoration project in the works for Upper Klamath Lake

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating a major restoration project on the shore of Upper Klamath Lake that could benefit species both above and below the water’s surface. If carried out, it would be the largest wetland restoration effort ever attempted for Upper Klamath Lake … [and] would reconnect and restore more than 14,000 acres of historic fringe wetlands back to the lake.

Aquafornia news UC Santa Cruz

New research: Optimizing coastal wetland restoration for carbon capture and storage

Healthy coastal wetlands can help combat climate change by absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it for the long term. Coastal wetlands also provide habitat for fish and other wildlife, reduce erosion and coastal flooding, improve water quality, and support recreational uses.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Cattle grazing a boon to vernal pools

Giving 1,200-pound cows access to one of the West’s most fragile and biologically rich ecosystems seems a strange way to protect its threatened and endangered species. But a recently published study suggests that reintroducing low to moderate levels of cattle grazing around vernal pools – under certain conditions – leads to a greater number and greater variety of native plants.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Agencies team to begin largest invasive plant removal project at Lake Tahoe

A pair of agencies are teaming up to begin the largest invasive plant removal project at Lake Tahoe, officials announced Wednesday. The USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, in partnership with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, are planning to remove 17 acres of invasive plants in the Taylor and Tallac creeks and marshes as part of a comprehensive restoration of one of the last natural wetlands in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Left unchecked, aquatic invasive plants can have devastating effects on Tahoe’s ecosystem and recreational resources.

Aquafornia news California Natural Resources Agency

News release: California releases draft strategy to achieve 30×30 conservation target

To protect biodiversity, advance equitable access to nature and combat climate change, the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) today released California’s draft strategy to conserve 30 percent of the state’s land and coastal waters by 2030 (30×30). The draft of Pathways to 30×30: Accelerating Conservation of California’s Nature is now available for public review and feedback. Input is welcomed through January 28, 2022.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Conaway Ranch proposing new project to benefit fish and birds in the Yolo Bypass

Reclamation District 2035 and the Conaway Preservation Group are proposing a project to improve and optimize flood plain rearing habitat, salmonid food production and permanent wetland restoration for Sacramento Valley salmonids. The project would involve nearly 5,775-acres of the Conaway Ranch in the Yolo Bypass, as seen below looking south down the Sacramento Valley, with the Tule Canal at left of photo.

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Salton Sea habitat restoration project touted

An ongoing species conservation habitat project at the Salton Sea’s southwestern shore is serving as a reminder that the sea’s restoration remains a key priority for Gov. Gavin Newsom. So, too, is a tour that dozens of state, federal and local stakeholders took of the project site where the New River enters the Salton Sea several miles west of Westmorland on Friday, Dec. 10. Among those present was California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, who said the tour was an acknowledgement of the ambitious Salton Sea Management Program’s progress and the overall work that remains to be done.

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: The state of the Colorado River going into 2022

Climate change is unfolding as a water supply crisis in the Colorado River Basin. Competition over water is on the rise, but I hold out hope that these extraordinary conditions will actually increase opportunities for stakeholders whose interests have historically been set aside. … I’ve spent decades working in the basin to improve water management, looking for alignment between solutions for birds and other wildlife and solutions for people.

Aquafornia news Water Online

Legal analysts say latest version of WOTUS could finally stick

Almost immediately after Joe Biden’s U.S. EPA administrator appointee Michael Regan took office, it was made clear that the agency intends to repeal and replace the Trump administration’s version of the Waters Of The United States (WOTUS) rule. This rule seeks to determine which source water bodies receive federal protection under the Clean Water Act. Trump’s version of the rule was itself a replacement of an Obama era version, and now it appears that Biden’s team is close to bringing it back to its definition from before either of those eras.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Innovative management for Central Valley native fish

Historically, the entire Central Valley of California was a floodplain. In winter and spring, storm runoff and snowmelt would spill over riverbanks, creating vast biologically productive wetlands where aquatic life flourished. This incredible productivity supported a huge fishery in the Central Valley, where we once had one of the largest runs of Chinook in the world. However, as modern day California was developed, the Central Valley’s waterways were re-engineered and channelized to control the floods and divert water for human uses. Today, only 5% of Central Valley floodplains remain intact and three of the four native Chinook salmon runs are listed as threatened or endangered. 

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 Jennifer 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 Jennifer 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


Restored wetlands in Northern California

Wetlands 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.