Episode 1: “Unraveling the Knot” Water movement in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – reprise

By Bill Fleenor, Amber Manfree, and Megan Nguyen

This is a re-posting from January 22, 2017.  Reminders on how things work are sometimes useful. (The whole series, with links below, is thought-provoking.)

In 2010, John DeGeorge of RMA, Inc used animated model results to illustrate specific flow and water quality issues in the Delta to the State Water Board. The Center for Watershed Sciences, working with John and using RMA software, has assembled a series of narrated animations to show some major forces acting on Delta flows and water quality. The goal is to “Unravel the Knot” of California’s Delta – at least some it – in terms of flow and water quality.

In Episode 1 we start with general background of California water and the role and significance of the Delta.

The main points are:

  • The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed covers 40% of California and most of the water used in the state by humans. Rain and snowmelt feed rivers, supporting a wide variety of habitats and large populations of wildlife.
  • The Delta is a critical hub in California’s water infrastructure, conveying fresh water from the wetter northern part of the state to farms and cities in the drier south. Water deliveries supporting intensive agriculture and supplying urban areas have spurred enormous economic growth. This has come with significant environmental tradeoffs.
  • The Delta is largely tidally influenced, and potential for rapid large-scale flooding of sunken island interiors, combined with sea level rise impacts, threaten its use as a conduit for water delivery, and raise the possibility of sudden, sweeping environmental changes.
  • Understanding how water moves in the Delta can help in planning for the future. This video series examines each component of water movement separately, and explains how shifts in water management, levee failure, and sea level rise might change the Delta and California’s water supply in the years ahead.

William Fleenor is a senior researcher who specializes in hydrodynamics and hydraulic modeling at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences (formally retired, but still great to have around). Amber Manfree is a postdoctoral researcher with the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences (now an independent professional). Megan Nguyen is a GIS researcher at the Center for Watershed Sciences (now doing great work for CalTrout).  Voice talent was generously provided by Dr. John Durand, a professional researcher at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

Further Reading

A Tale of Two Deltas: A Comparison of Transport Processes in the Predevelopment and Contemporary Delta (Jon Burau, as summarized by Maven, 2016)

Episode 1: “Unraveling the Knot” – Water movement in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – Introduction

Episode 2: “Unraveling the Knot” – Water movement in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – Tidal Forces

Episode 3: “Unraveling the Knot” – Water movement in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – Managing Flows

About jaylund

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Director, Center for Watershed Sciences University of California - Davis
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2 Responses to Episode 1: “Unraveling the Knot” Water movement in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – reprise

  1. J Rizzi says:

    Water movement but neglect salt water import movement through Delta to ports (Sac & Stockton). Dredging the shipping channels yearly creates a path for the heavy salty sea water into Delta and spoil the fresh water for environment and export. Fix the problem by a shipping lock and tidally controlled louvers with some free unblocked water flow at many optional points in the Bay area. Under Golden Gate bridge would protect all of bay area. San Pablo Bay channel to protect east bay. At Benicia Bridge to protect all Delta. 2 locations can protect just export water supplies.

  2. Greg Gartrell says:

    Just curious why you include the NBA as one of the larger intakes in the Delta (max 142 cfs) but exclude the 200 cfs ECCID intake in the central Delta?

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