Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

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Combatants in New CA Water War Dig In

 Opponents call Governor’s Delta plan “plumbing before policy” and “a wink and a promise”

Craig Miller

Opponents to Governor Brown's Delta plan were gathered on the Capitol steps within an hour of the announcement.

You can hear a one-hour discussion of the proposed Delta plan on KQED’s Forum.

“You’ve launched a war. We’ll fight the battle,” was the rallying cry from congressman John Garamendi, within hours of the announcement of Governor Jerry Brown’s revised plan for California’s already embattled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Brown was flanked by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and officials of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration in rolling out a plan which Brown’s Natural Resources Agency says, “will undergo a rigorous public environmental review.” The plan’s centerpiece is a long-debated tunnel to shuttle water from the Sacramento River, north of the Delta, to the vast plumbing system that carries water to farms in the San Joaquin Valley and cities in Southern California. The conveyance is touted as a way to protect fish from the voracious pumps that fill the canals heading south. Continue reading

Water Wars May Reignite Over Massive Delta Plan

Battle lines are forming as Governor Brown prepares to roll out his proposal for the Delta

Josh Cassidy/KQED

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta plays a crucial role in the state’s water supply.

On Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar are expected to announce a multi-billion dollar plan designed to fix California’s longstanding water war in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Their proposal for a 35-mile water tunnel is set to reignite the fight over how water is exported from the Delta. The announcement comes just months after federal and state wildlife agencies warned that the proposed version of the project could have dramatic impacts on Delta fish.

Political wrangling over the governor’s announcement has already begun. Continue reading

Three Delta Disasters that Could Disrupt California’s Water Supply

Storms, quakes and creeping saltwater intrusion could all spell trouble at the tap

California Conservation Corps

California Conservation Corps workers repairing a levee in the San Francisco Bay-Delta. The levees are a vital defense for farmland and communities but are vulnerable to sea level rise and quakes.

In the conclusion of her three part series, “California’s Deadlocked Delta,” KQED science reporter Lauren Sommer explores how climate change will affect the San Francisco Bay-Delta’s already foundering ecosystems and further complicate management of this critical hub of California’s water supply.

For those who know little about the massive estuary an hour east of downtown San Francisco, the Delta is the meeting place of two of the state’s largest river systems, the Sacramento and San Joaquin. Flowing down from Sierra snowfields and lakes, the two rivers converge in this 1600-square-mile tangle of tidal marshes, sloughs and canals. Continue reading

A Visual Deep Dive into California’s Delta

Ambitious mapping & data effort accompanies KQED multimedia series

KQED / Bill Lane Ctr

"Deadlocked Delta" is a multilayered look at where much of California's water comes from.

If, like most Californians, you’re a bit fuzzy on why the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta matters to you, take a tour through the impressive new online resource from KQED’s science unit, the San Francisco Estuary Institute, and Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West.

“California’s Deadlocked Delta” is more than a data trove for water geeks, it’s a visually pleasing deep dive into the single most important piece of California’s persistent water puzzle. It provides some eye-opening glimpses of how this critical intersection for the state’s freshwater supply has changed over generations. Continue reading

What is the Delta, and Why Should You Care?

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta: ground zero for fights over water, fish and farms

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a key to the water supply for 25 million Caliornians.

California’s Delta, where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers meet, is the heart of the state’s complex water infrastructure. Where water from the north gets funneled to the south, wetlands have been turned into farmland, and native fish are in decline. Millions of Californians use water from the Delta, but in a poll conducted earlier this year, 78% of respondents didn’t know anything about it.

KQED’s Lauren Sommer is producing a series about the Delta, beginning today with a story introducing the architecture of the Delta, the battles being fought there and possible solutions–all made more complicated by climate change.

And to help get you started, here’s a video.

Continue reading

New Reports Highlight Climate Challenges to State Water Supplies

Good news, bad news for California: we’re well-prepared but still vulnerable

Department of Water Resources

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the hub of California's complex water system.

California is both highly prepared and highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change on its water systems, according to two recent studies.

Released today, the National Resources Defense Council’s “Ready or Not” report ranked states in terms of overall water preparedness. The rankings took into account susceptibility to various climate-related factors – such as coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion and flooding – as well as steps being taken to curb carbon emissions and to recognize and tackle vulnerabilities to a changing climate. Continue reading

Dunno Much about Hydrology: Californians Clueless about Delta’s Role in Their Water

Most respondents statewide said they knew nothing about the Delta or hadn’t heard of it

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a key to the water supply for 25 million Caliornians.

Quick: What is the Sacramento Delta?

Not where. What. According to a new statewide poll commissioned by Southern California water interests, three out of four surveyed could not answer that question correctly…or at all. This despite the fact that the maze of channels around the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin River is a crucial cog in the water supply of 25 million Californians and the subject of intense, ongoing political and legal skirmishes.

According to Probolsky Research, which conducted the survey, 78% of respondents statewide said they either knew nothing about the Delta or hadn’t heard of it. About four percent knew that it plays a role in supporting endangered fish species, but only 2.3% cited the Delta as a “source of water.” (The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.7%). Water from California’s northern rivers is funneled from the Delta to serve thirsty customers as far south as San Diego. Continue reading

A Few May Lose Big as Delta Changes: How to Contain the Cost

A new report warns that some islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta may not be worth saving.

California Department of Water Resources

Increased flood risk in the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta has people worried about the economic impact on the farmers and residents located there.

Here’s the bad news for Delta farmers: A new report concludes that the worst climate impacts on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could affect a relatively small number of people — the farmers whose land is below sea level and protected by a vast system of levees. Maintaining and repairing those levees falls on local reclamation districts, which can’t necessarily count on state or federal bailouts in the event of catastrophic flooding in the future. It can be expensive if a levee breaks. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) studied the economic impacts of changes to the fragile Delta ecosystem and has produced some recommendations that are not likely to warm the hearts of some Delta landowners. Continue reading

Govt. Study Affirms Delta Fears, Water Risks for California

USGS

Suisun Slough in the lower Sacramento Delta. Twenty-five million Californians depend on the Delta for at least some of their water.

“Today’s extremes could become tomorrow’s norms”

That’s the upshot of an ambitious study by the US Geological Survey, which would appear to affirm some dire predictions for California’s most important water system.

The study, authored by nearly a dozen scientists, is billed as “the first integrated assessment of how the Bay-Delta system will respond to climate change.” It’s presented as a “flash forward” to what California’s Sacramento-SanJoaquin Delta could become by the end of this century. It ran a series of nine indicators through multiple models to project trends in temperature, precipitation, salinity, runoff and sea level rise.

The result: Pretty much what climate scientists have been saying; that we’ll see “potentially longer dry seasons,” a shrinking Sierra snow pack and “earlier snowmelt leaving less water for runoff in the summer.” Continue reading

New Battlefront Over California Water

Garamendi warns of a “serious water war” if Nunes bill passes

Lawmakers traded punches on Capitol Hill this morning over the future of California’s water.

(Photo: University of California)

In a contentious hearing before the House Subcommittee on Water & Power, Delta Democrat John Garamendi warned that a Republican-sponsored bill to ensure farm water in the Central Valley would start a “serious water war.”

“Are you guys kidding?”, Garamendi asked his congressional colleagues. “You really want to start a serious water war in California? And you think that’s going to solve your problems and get you more water? This is really, really terrible public policy.”

The proposed policy at issue is the San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act (HR 1837), sponsored by Republican Devin Nunes of Fresno.

Environmentalists say the bill (HR 1837) would gut efforts to restore the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. Nunes says it’s essential to save farms and jobs. Continue reading