The Delta

What is the Delta?

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta (“Delta”), a 700-mile maze of sloughs, canals, waterways and islands located where the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers converge is the largest estuary on the West Coast and California’s main water supply hub.

The Delta is one of the most important aspects of California’s water delivery system – serving millions throughout Northern, Central and Southern California – and is home to hundreds of species of fish and wildlife. In addition to supporting an important ecosystem, water from the Delta is indispensable to the agricultural industry and businesses that drive our state’s economy. Water conveyed through the Delta sustains $400 billion of California’s statewide economy.

Distribution Center for California’s Water Supply

  • Levees for channeling flows and protecting agriculture
  • Pumps for moving water to cities and farms
  • Drinking water for 25 million of acres of prime farmland
  • Clean water for businesses and industries statewide

Long-Standing Communities

  • 500,000 acres of farmland, vineyards and orchards
  • Home to 515,000 people
  • Corridor for key utility lines and railway
  • Popular boating, windsurfing and ecotourism center

What are the current challenges of the Delta?

For years though the Delta has been troubled by invasive species, urban and agricultural pollutants discharged into Delta waters, and state and federal pumping operations.

It has been widely acknowledged by environmentalists, scientists, regulators, water agencies, state and federal agencies that the Delta is no longer suitable to sustain the state’s water deliveries. An effort known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan has been underway for the past five years to identify solutions that will resolve conflicts between water supplies for people and the environmental needs of the Delta.

A Threatened Natural Resource

  • Largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas
  • Once a lush web of rivers, sloughs, streams, marshes and grasslands
  • 95% of original wetlands have been replaced by levees and farmland
  • Home to 750 species of wildlife and plants
  • Invasive species plaguing the estuary
  • Fragile native fish populations


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