Welcome to the Bay Delta Blog! This is a website about California’s water resources. Unsurprisingly, given its title, a great deal of time here will be devoted to the special problems facing the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary.
The watershed of the Delta covers almost half the land area of California, and the Delta is also the hub of California’s massive water conveyance facilities, in particular, the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. The complex and strained situation in the Delta thus has tremendous implications for the rest of California. This blog will therefore discuss water issues from throughout California, and particularly (but hopefully not exclusively) those issues that have some nexus to the Delta.
Effective change in the Delta has been elusive, and yet, almost everyone agrees that bold and serious changes are needed if this critical water resource is to be saved. That, of course, is roughly where the agreement ends. The exact changes to implement remain contentious and fiercely debated among agricultural interests, environmentalists, in Delta users, and other stakeholders.
By way of introduction: my name is Eric, an individual citizen and native Californian from San Francisco. Given how contentious and polarized water issues in California are, I thought I should briefly share my personal perspective. I do not represent any political factions in the water debate. I do not speak for a water district, nor do I speak for an environmental protection group. My livelihood does not depend on an adequate supply of water being delivered to a farm for use in irrigation, nor does it depend on a thriving fish population. I am, in other words, merely a fascinated observer, and not a stakeholder — at least, no more a stakeholder than any other citizen of California.
There will be an increased demand for water in California. But climate change and other factors suggest that there will be less water available statewide for consumptive use, so that demand must somehow be accommodated — in part by taking steps to reduce demand, encourage efficient allocation, and increase both agricultural and urban conservation. Moreover, that demand should be accommodated in a way that respects nature. The history of California consists of tale after tale of humans appropriating water resources, with little to no thought given to the possible consequences of such action. The unsustainable, highly precarious situation we now find in the Delta is the direct result of this unfortunate historical nonchalance. A Delta solution that delivers water, but which sacrifices the ecosystem in the process, is no solution at all. If a plan for the Delta is to be successful, it must satisfactorily address its diverse set of problems, which include managing demand, increasing the reliability of water delivery, and restoring a profoundly disturbed ecosystem. The same could be said for water use throughout California.