About

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.

Welcome to Bay Delta Δ!

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 SF Bay Delta Estuary. The Greek letter Δ denotes, among other things, change — and almost everyone agrees that changes are needed in the Delta 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.

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, and this this site will, to a certain extent, cover statewide water issues that might primarily concern some place outside the Delta.

This blog is actually a secondary startup. The primary blog I write is the Transbay Blog; that site, which started in 2007, focuses on transportation, land use, and urban/regional planning in the San Francisco Bay Area. Water resources is another issue of great personal interest, and in California, there is no shortage of turbulent water politics and intractable problems with water resources management. I started writing a few posts about the Delta on Transbay Blog, but they were somewhat conspicuous given the usual content of that site. So I decided to start Bay Delta Δ as an outlet for writing about California water issues — free of the niche topical constraints of Transbay Blog.

Keeping even one blog updated can sometimes be a trying (although rewarding) experience, and, to be frank, I am not quite sure how I will find the time to keep two blogs updated. As such, Bay-Delta is somewhat of an experiment, to see how long I can keep it going. I expect the posts will be a mixture of news, opinion, and analysis — perhaps leaning heavy on the news side, since sharing news links is a non-time-intensive way to keep a blog updated. Sharing a news link without offering an opinion on it does not necessarily mean I fully endorse the contents of that article — but it may mean that a response will be forthcoming in a future analytical post.

Finally, 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 probably 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.

My perspective, in a nutshell, is two-fold. On the one hand, there will be an increased demand for water in California — and that demand must somehow be accommodated, even while climate change and other factors suggest that there will be less water available statewide for consumptive use. On the other hand, the 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 truly successful, it must satisfactorily address the diverse set of problems facing the Delta. This includes ensuring reliable water delivery, while restoring a profoundly disturbed ecosystem.

Note: This post has been republished as the “About” page.

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