Department of Water Resources Home

Delta Initiatives

DWR Interim Delta Actions

Delta channel The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a great natural treasure and a vital link in the state's water system, spanning five counties in northern California at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. As a result of the State's increasing population, demand for water and changing environmental conditions, the Delta is in jeopardy of collapse.

To avert an ecological disaster and ensure reliable water supplies for Californians now and in the future Governor Schwarzenegger has outlined a comprehensive plan for Delta sustainability. The Governor's plan is consistent with the California Water Plan and the Delta Vision's Blue Ribbon Task Force recommendations and includes actions that need to move forward now but will be consistent with any long-term strategic plan.

These actions are not intended to replace recommendations from ongoing Delta planning efforts. Instead, they are intended to make incremental improvements until long-term solutions are in place.

repair work Delta Emergency Operations Plan - DWR in partnership with the Delta Protection Commission and local governments will improve the ability to quickly respond to large-scale levee failures in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. A significant earthquake event of 6.5 Richter scale or higher could result in as many as 50 levee failures and the flooding of 20 or more Delta islands. Such a catastrophe would cripple the Delta water supply systems and impact significant state infrastructure. For more information contact: Bill Croyle, (916) 574-2611.

View the Emergency Operations Plan Goals
View the Emergency Operations Plan Schedule
View the Emergency Operations Plan Organization

supplies Pre Deployment of Emergency Response Supplies - This effort involves the construction of new emergency stockpile / transfer facilities at strategic locations in the Delta, and purchasing additional pre-positioned materials to address levee breach closures and restoring crest elevations on long-distances of slumped levees. For more information contact: Bill Croyle, (916) 574-2611.

View the map of pre deployment sites

disaster planning Delta Disaster Planning Exercise - The Governor has called for DWR in partnership with the Delta Protection Commission and local governments to conduct a multiagency disaster planning exercise in the Delta. For more information contact: Bill Croyle, (916) 574-2611.

smelt UCD's Delta Smelt Culture Facility - U.C. Davis The State, working with federal agencies, will upgrade and continue operation of a Delta smelt culture laboratory located at the Department of Water Resources Banks Pumping Plant in the Delta. UCD rears and provides over 20,000 juvenile and adult fish annually to researchers carrying out elements of the POD investigation and evaluating ways to improve the performance of existing and new fish screening facilities. These research fish are the progeny of wild fish collected in the Delta in 2006, and with the curtailment of the collection of wild fish due to the declining population they are now the only source of live research fish. Research is also carried out at the UC Davis fish culture facility into the physical and biological requirements of delta smelt. For more information contact: Steve Ford, (916) 651-9578.

smelt Delta Smelt Refuge Population - DWR is working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and UC Davis through the USFWS's Delta Smelt Captive Propagation Work Group to establish a permanent smelt refugia to ensure the conservation of the genetic diversity of delta smelt. The refugia would provide the brood stock for a conservation hatchery if and when the state and federal fishery agencies decide it is needed to supplement the remaining wild population of delta smelt or to restock the Delta if the wild population is extirpated (as was done with the California condor). This facility is using wild-born smelt collected in 2006 as its initial founding stock. For more information contact: Steve Ford, (916) 651-9578.

cache slough Cache Slough Restoration - The Cache Slough area includes high biodiversity and sensitive habitats. This area is viewed as having good potential for restoration success in the north Delta due to relatively high tidal range, historical dendritic channel network, relatively minimal subsidence, and remnant riparian and vernal pool habitat. Preservation and restoration of this area has begun through conservation easements and public lands. Cache Slough had the highest concentration of pre-spawning adult smelt in 2007. Restoration efforts at Cache Slough would be targeted to benefit delta smelt, juvenile Chinook salmon and steelhead, and other native plants and animals that benefit from tule marsh, riparian habitats and grazing land that border the sloughs. As many as 80 species have the potential to benefit from this project. For more information contact: Stephani Spaar, (916) 651-0178.
View the project factsheet for more information

dutch slough Dutch Slough Restoration - Restore tidal action and associated wetlands habitats to the 1,166 acre project site. The restoration activities and long-term management are designed to contribute to the recovery of several listed and sensitive aquatic species in the western Delta, while providing sustainable ecosystem benefits to improve our understanding of ecological processes and how ecosystems function at different spatial levels. For more information contact Patty Quickert,, (916) 651-0851.

blacklock levee Blacklock Restoration Project - The overall approach for the Blacklock Restoration Project is a passive restoration strategy in which the exterior levee is breached, natural sedimentation and plant detritus accumulation restores intertidal elevations, and natural colonization establishes the plant and wildlife communities. In 2006, a breach was constructed in the levee along Little Honker Bay at the Blacklock Restoration Site. With this breach, 70 acres of tidal wetlands were created in the Suisun Marsh. Researchers expect to learn lessons from this restoration site that can be applied to other tidal restoration projects in Suisun Marsh. For more information contact: Paul Massera, (916) 651-9552.

meins landing Meins Landing Restoration Project - DWR acquired the Meins Landing Duck Club in 2005, in partnership with the State Coastal Conservancy and the Suisun Marsh Preservation Agreement agencies. The property includes 666 acres of seasonally managed (non-tidal) marsh in Suisun Marsh, Solano County, which could provide a diversity of habitats when restored. For more information contact Sandi Maxwell at, or (916) 651-7009.
Also see the Meins Landing project page for more information

north delta North Delta Flood Control and Ecosystem Restoration Project - The Mokelumne and Cosumnes Rivers do not currently have sufficient channel capacity to safely convey 100-year peak flows from Sierra Nevada watersheds through the North Delta to the San Joaquin River. The North Delta is susceptible to levee failure during peak flows. Levees on McCormack-Williamson Tract and Dead Horse Island have been overtopped during large floods, and many other levees have been subject to structural failure during past storm events. The potential for North Delta flooding also threatens important public facilities and institutions, including Interstate 5, the Union Pacific Railroad line, and the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center. The purpose of the North Delta Flood Control and Ecosystem Restoration Project is to implement flood control improvements in a manner that benefits aquatic and terrestrial habitats, species, and ecological processes. For more information contact: Ralph Svetich, (916) 651-7020.

subsidence research USGS Subsidence Research on Twitchell Island - The Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the US Geological Survey (USGS) constructed approximately 15 acres of Wetlands in 1997 to evaluate land surface elevation changes and carbon accretion due to the accumulation and decay of plant materials. Ongoing research at this facility has shown that land surface elevation increases 1.3 - 2.2 in/yr, while surrounding areas used for agricultural purposes lost elevation due to subsidence. Decaying organic matter can not only eliminate subsidence but also reverse subsidence through utilization of appropriate land management practices. For more information contact: Bryon Brock, (916) 651-0836.
View the project factsheet for more information

mayberry farms Mayberry Farms Subsidence Reversal Project - Constructed in 2010, this project created permanent wetland for waterfowl on Sherman Island to reduce subsidence and sequester carbon. The project property is a 308 acre parcel owned by DWR. Water levels are manipulated to restore, create and maintain the desired emergent wetland conditions throughout the site year-round, effectively creating a permanent wetland. For more information contact: Charles Tyson, (916) 651-7019.

Also see the Mayberry Farms project page for more information

rice fields Farm Scale Rice Pilot Project - Growing rice may be an effective and sustainable way to reduce subsidence and facilitate carbon sequestration, while maintaining a farm economy in the Delta. This pilot project will provide an opportunity to evaluate this technique while considering water quality, farming, and best management practice issues that must be evaluated and resolved. The data analyzed during this project will allow DWR and others to develop recommendations on how this method can be applied to reduce subsidence and sequester carbon. Data will also provide a road map for best management practices that can be used for rice growing implementation Delta wide. For more information contact: Bryon Brock, (916) 651-0836.
View the project factsheet for more information

wetland Carbon Sequestration and Wetland Farming Demonstration Project - DWR in cooperation with USGS is currently planning to construct a 300-1000 acre farm scale wetland demonstration project. It is anticipated that as a carbon market emerges in California, Delta farmers may be able to profit from farming wetlands and sequestering carbon in the west delta. As part of this project, DWR will work with State regulatory agencies, including the Air Resources Board, to ensure that delta carbon sequestration efforts are considered when developing a statewide program. Additionally, DWR will work with local farmers to make sure that they are aware of the carbon market developments in California and help them to prepare for program implementation. Additionally, water and air quality monitoring activities will be undertaken and coordinated with the DWR/USGS wetlands research project. For more information contact: Bryon Brock, (916) 651-0836.  
View the project factsheet for more information

franks tract Franks Tract Project - DWR and the Bureau of Reclamation propose to implement the Franks Tract Project to improve water quality and fisheries conditions in the Delta. The results of computer modeling have indicated that modifying the hydrodynamic conditions near Franks Tract may substantially reduce salinity in the Delta, and protect fishery resources, including the sharply declining populations of delta smelt, a federally and state listed species that is endemic to the Delta. The proposed project would consist of constructing and operating one or more flow control facilities in the Franks Tract area that would allow better management of hydrodynamic conditions to improve salinity levels and protect at-risk fish species in the central and south Delta. For more information contact: Ajay Goyal, (916) 651-9823.
View the project factsheet for more information

screen intakes Screen Intakes on Sherman and Twitchell - Install fish screens on the few remaining unscreened diversions used to irrigate state-owned lands on Sherman and Twitchell Islands in the Delta. For more information contact: Gordon Enas, 916-653-7589

delta levee Delta Levee Maintenance Subventions Program - This program provides financial assistance to local agencies for the maintenance and rehabilitation of Delta levees through the Delta Levees Maintenance Subventions Program. The State reimburses local agencies up to 75 percent of the eligible costs to maintain and improve levees. This Program, originally known as the "Way Bill" program, was revised with enactment of the Delta Flood Protection Act of 1988, Senate Bill 1065 (Statutes of 1991), and Assembly Bill 360 (Statutes of 1996). For more information contact: Dave Lawson, (916) 651-7011.

delta levee Delta Levee Special Flood Control Projects - The Delta Levees Special Flood Control Projects program provides funds to designated local agencies in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta for flood control projects and for related habitat mitigation and net long-term improvement projects. Flood control projects mainly consist of levee rehabilitation and repair efforts. The Special Flood Control Projects has historically focused primarily on flood control projects and related habitat projects for eight western Delta Islands--Bethel, Bradford, Holland, Hotchkiss, Jersey, Sherman, Twitchell and Webb Islands-portions of Suisun Marsh - and for the Towns of Thornton and Walnut Grove. For more information contact: Bob Yeadon, (916) 651-7012.

temporary barriers Temporary Barriers - The South Delta Temporary Barriers Project, began as a test project in 1991. The project consists of four rock barriers across South Delta channels. Three barriers are installed during the growing season to provide adequate water levels and water quality in the south Delta for local agricultural diversions. The fourth barrier is to improve conditions for salmon migrating on the San Joaquin River. This barrier may be installed in the spring to prevent salmon migrating down the river from straying into the south Delta where they can be entrained in the SWP and CVP pumping facilities. It is also installed in the fall if needed to improve flows for salmon migrating up the San Joaquin River to spawn. For more information contact: Mark Holderman , (916) 653-7429.