Delta Water

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta: Background, Programs & Projects

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is in trouble. The Delta ecosystem is faced today with unprecedented threats; among them are a collapsed fishery, invasive species, declining water quality, flood risks and threats to our water supply. In addition, recent drought conditions are exacerbating this situation. The State, in attempting to address these problems and provide reliable water supply to the south, is considering dramatic changes to the Delta as we know it [Map of the Delta].

There are a great number of state and federal projects and programs currently ongoing. Listed below are a few of the state programs that have the potential to impact the county and its inhabitants. For information on the many other Delta projects and programs, there is a wonderful glossary (explaining the projects) and a timeline on these projects on the Delta Vision website.

Governor Schwarzenegger has instituted several plans and programs to “fix” the Delta. The Governor has introduced a comprehensive water plan: priorities include conservation (a 20% reduction in water use statewide by 2020), floodplain protection, a Delta Protection Commission Management Plan update, levee protection, disaster planning, water quality, storage (surface and groundwater), conveyance options (to move water from north to south) and immediate actions to be taken to improve the situation.

A Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force was created by the Governor in September 2006 to complete a new “Vision” for a sustainable Delta and a Strategic Plan to implement it. The Task Force completed its vision in November 2007, and is currently creating a strategic plan to implement the Vision (due in October 2008). The Vision holds that water supply and ecosystem health are of equal importance, and outlines 12 integrated, linked recommendations that must be implemented together for success.

The issue of Conveyance (the movement of water from north to south, either through the Delta or around it) is central to the debate about the future of the Delta. Conveyance from the Sacramento River around the Delta to the pumps is called Isolated Water Transfer, and is otherwise known as a Peripheral Canal. A Peripheral Canal is once again being planned through the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) process (also sanctioned by the Governor and initiated by the State Water Contractors, a water export group). This effort would obtain the permits required for a canal to be built. Environmental review of this process has begun, with issuance of a federal Notice of Intention (NOI) and state Notice of Preparation (NOP).

Contra Costa County has prepared a draft Delta Water Platform which addresses many policies which the County considers to be important, and forms the basis for our comments on the above-mentioned projects and programs. The Board of Supervisors will be finalizing this platform in August-September 2008.

Roberta Goulart
(925) 335-1226