Comparing Futures for the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta

Comparing Futures for the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta

Jay R. Lund
Ellen Hanak
William E. Fleenor
William A. Bennett
Richard E. Howitt
Jeffrey F. Mount
Peter B. Moyle
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pp9s8
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  • Book Info
    Comparing Futures for the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta
    Book Description:

    An ecosystem in freefall, a shrinking water supply for cities and agriculture, an antiquated network of failure-prone levees—this is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the major hub of California's water system. Written by a team of independent water experts, this analysis of the latest data evaluates proposed solutions to the Delta's myriad problems. Through in-depth economic and ecological analysis, the authors find that the current policy of channeling water exports through the Delta is not sustainable for any interest. Employing a peripheral canal-conveying water around the Delta instead of through it—as part of a larger habitat and water management plan appears to be the best strategy to maintain both a high-quality water supply and at the same time improve conditions for native fish and wildlife. This important assessment includes integrated analysis of long term ecosystem and water management options and demonstrates how issues such as climate change and sustainability will shape the future. Published in cooperation with the Public Policy Institute of California

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94537-1
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta and Delta Islands Maps
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  7. 1 INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-16)

    Throughout the world, and particularly in the American West, people are learning how to remanage natural resource and environmental systems, which they had thought of as fully developed and sustainable. In many cases, the old assumptions are proving false. External forces such as sea level rise, climate change, economic globalization, population growth, and rising concern for the natural environment all impose changes on the management of these systems. In some cases, the internal dynamics, however well intentioned, are also proving unsustainable—with outcomes such as soil erosion, accumulation of pollutants in soils, and groundwater deterioration imposing changes in management over...

  8. 2 THE LEGACIES OF DELTA HISTORY
    (pp. 17-42)

    The modern history of the Delta reveals profound geologic and social changes that began with European settlement in the mid-nineteenth century. After 1800, the Delta evolved from a fishing, hunting, and foraging site for Native Americans (primarily Miwok and Wintun tribes), to a transportation network for explorers and settlers, to a major agrarian resource for California, and finally to the hub of the water supply system for San Joaquin Valley agriculture and Southern California and Bay Area cities. Central to these transformations was the conversion of vast areas of tidal wetlands into islands of farmland surrounded by levees. Much...

  9. 3 MANAGING THE INEVITABLE
    (pp. 43-56)

    The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta is significantly changed from its historic condition. Before the arrival of Europeans, the Delta was one of California’s most dynamic landscapes. Lying at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their floodplains at the head of the San Francisco Estuary, with its extensive marshes and tidal channels, “equilibrium” in the Delta consisted of constant change, involving self adjustment to daily tides, annual floods and droughts, shifts in climate, and rise in sea level. As noted in Chapter 2, the policies and practices of the past 150 years have overtly or inadvertently reduced the Delta’s...

  10. 4 DELTA WATER EXPORTS AND STRATEGIES
    (pp. 57-68)

    Changes in the Delta are inevitable, given the unstoppable processes of sea-level rise, land subsidence, earthquakes, and a warming climate bringing larger floods. As discussed in Chapter 3, these changes pose grave questions about future land uses in many parts of the Delta. Anticipating these changes is also critical for managing California’s water supplies, given the Delta’s central role in moving water from Northern California watersheds to farmlands and cities south and west of the Delta. Recent water exports from the Delta have ranged from 5 to 6 million acre-feet (maf) per year, supplying much of the water used in...

  11. 5 HYDRODYNAMICS AND THE SALINITY OF DELTA WATERS
    (pp. 69-92)

    Since water exports began in the 1940s, the Delta has been managed to keep its water fresh enough for agricultural and urban uses by export users and in-Delta users. This management—achieved through the release of water from upstream reservoirs and changes in export schedules—can vary daily because of the Delta’s complex and dynamic physical environment. Located on the eastern edge of the San Francisco Estuary and at the mouth of two major rivers, the Delta experiences numerous influences on its water quality: in-flows of fresh water, saltwater, and drainage water, with substantial mixing from the tides. The future...

  12. 6 WHAT A CHANGING DELTA MEANS FOR THE ECOSYSTEM AND ITS FISH
    (pp. 93-110)

    “The Delta ecosystem and a reliable water supply for California are the primary co-equal goals for a sustainable Delta.” This is the first recommendation in the long-term vision for the Delta suggested by Governor Schwarzenegger’s Blue Ribbon Task Force (Isenberg et al. 2008a). A major challenge to achieving such a balance is that ecosystem water demands are neither straightforward to gauge nor constant across or within years. Simply allocating some fixed proportion of the water for ecosystem purposes is unlikely to recover populations of desirable species,¹ as evidenced by the failure of “environmental” water provisioned over the last decade or...

  13. 7 ECONOMICS OF CHANGING WATER SUPPLY AND QUALITY
    (pp. 111-126)

    The Delta is a major source of water for urban and agricultural uses in the Bay Area, the southern Central Valley, Southern California, and the Delta itself. The recent rise of water markets has more closely linked water management in upstream and importing regions of the state, and the evolving natural conditions in the Delta and modifications in export management policies will cause major changes for water users and managers throughout California. In this chapter, we estimate the costs of different approaches to managing Delta exports and outflows from the perspectives of both water supply and quality. Although there is...

  14. 8 POLICY AND REGULATORY CHALLENGES
    (pp. 127-152)

    To increase the chances of favorable ecosystem and economic outcomes, California needs a policymaking environment that enables decision makers to anticipate the changes facing the Delta. This requires effective political leadership, a sound governance and finance system, and an appropriate set of regulatory tools.

    Given the many often-conflicting stakeholders concerned with Delta outcomes, there is no substitute for higher-level political leadership to help chart a new course for Delta management and negotiate solutions for some of the difficult trade-offs among human users of the Delta’s resources. Mitigation offers a promising path for resolving some of these trade-offs, while fostering policies...

  15. 9 DECISION ANALYSIS FOR DELTA EXPORTS
    (pp. 153-168)

    The Delta poses a variety of highly complex problems with a myriad of uncertainties. These troublesome characteristics are common to many other problems, ranging from public policy issues such as national defense and school system planning to personal career and retirement planning. To address all aspects of such problems simultaneously is beyond human abilities and comprehension. To solve complex problems, it is first necessary to organize them into smaller components that can be understood and solved sequentially, to provide insights into how to solve other pieces and to indicate promising overall strategies.

    In this chapter, we organize recent scientific and...

  16. 10 CHARTING THE FUTURE FOR A CHANGING DELTA
    (pp. 169-178)

    To be successful, natural resources management must be able to adapt to changing conditions. This book has looked at the long-term management of California’s Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, which faces inevitable changes in landscape, economy, and ecology, driven by sea-level rise, climate change, earthquakes, land subsidence, and biological invasions. Management objectives for this region have also been changing over time, as a consequence of long-term shifts in the societal values placed on the Delta’s ecosystem and the species that depend on it to thrive. Now we summarize our conclusions regarding the Delta’s changing landscape, the potential for improving the Delta’s...

  17. APPENDIX: ESTIMATION OF PROBABILITIES, COSTS, AND REDUCTIONS FOR DELTA OUTCOMES AND STRATEGIES
    (pp. 179-190)
  18. ACRONYNMS AND ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. 191-192)
  19. NOTES
    (pp. 193-202)
  20. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 203-206)
  21. REFERENCES
    (pp. 207-218)
  22. INDEX
    (pp. 219-230)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 231-232)