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Comparing Futures for the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta

Jay Lund

Publication Year: 2010

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

Published by: University of California Press

Series: Freshwater Ecology Series

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Table of Contents

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pp. v-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

In the American West, and much of the world, the golden era of water development is over. No longer can dams, diversions, canals, levees, dikes, and ditches be built without regard for the environment.Today’s landscapes are saturated with water infrastructure and human land uses. ...

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Acknowledgments, Maps

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pp. xv-xxii

Much of this work would be weaker without the diligent efforts of our students, research associates, and postdoctoral researchers: Dane Behrens, Wei-Hsiang Chen, Christina Connell, Kevin Fung, Kristine Haunschild, Kaveh Madani, Josue Medellin, Marcelo Olivares, Robyn Suddeth, Sarah Swanbeck, and Stacy Tanaka. ...

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1. Introduction

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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. ...

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2. The Legacies of Delta History

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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), ...

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3. Managing The Inevitable

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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, ...

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4. Delta Water Exports and Strategies

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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. ...

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5. Hydrodynamics and the Salinity of Delta Waters

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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. ...

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6. What a Changing Delta Means for the Ecosystem and Its Fish

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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). ...

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7. Economics of Changing Water Supply and Quality

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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, ...

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8. Policy and Regulatory Challenges

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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. ...

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9. Decision Analysis for Delta Exports

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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. ...

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10. Charting the Future for a Changing Delta

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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. ...

Appendix: Estimation of Probabilities, Costs, and Reductions for Delta Outcomes and Strategies

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pp. 179-190

Acronyms and Abbreviations

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pp. 191-192


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pp. 193-202


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pp. 203-206


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pp. 207-218


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pp. 219-230

Further Reading, Production Notes

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pp. 256-257

E-ISBN-13: 9780520945371
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520261976

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Freshwater Ecology Series