A Look at the Delta through the years and the latest attempt to mess with Nature or Revise the Delta!

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With all the media hype going on about the Delta and plans for a Peripheral Canal or Dual Conveyance Facility through and around the Delta, it might be helpful to find out the FACTS about the Delta first.  The state and main stream media have been redefining historical facts for the purpose of reaching their end goals.  They (current state political powers and the main stream media) want to manipulate the public and need to change historical facts to do that, apparently.  We know it is a rather bold statement to make, but we are telling the truth.  California voters should make informed decisions, based on FACTS not fabricated theories, regarding spending future tax dollars on building a canal and restoration projects.  Take the time to understand the FACTS, then you decide what is in the best interest of the state and what is fair and just under the circumstances.    The following questions are planned to be answered, with links to the verification data provided in case the reader wants to look further into the issues:  
  Reference links and Thumbnails
Where is the Delta? 

     The Delta is located in Northern California, inland of the San Francisco Bay going towards Sacramento.  Highways 80 and 5 boarder the Delta and Highway 12 crosses the Delta east to west in about the middle of the Delta region.  The boundaries of the Delta were legislatively defined by the Federal and State governments when the Federally-funded Central Valley Project was planned as part of the "New Deal" after the Depression.  The Legal Delta Region includes land of five counties, and portions of several larger cities like Sacramento, West Sacramento, Stockton and Antioch, and smaller cities like Rio Vista, Byron, Walnut Grove, Freeport, Clarksburg, Courtland and Isleton.  There are 62 major named islands and hundreds of smaller islands.  There are over 700,000 acres in the Legal Delta region.  The maps to the right show the defined boundaries of the Delta and current Delta road and island locations.

   see Map Pages
Why is the Delta important to me?

     If you drink water or wine in California, or eat rice, vegetables, nuts and fruits, or use natural gas to heat your home, all of those goods are available to you at the relatively low price you pay because the Delta exists.  Fresh water from the Delta is pumped out to be transported to other areas of California to supply the drinking water for 22 million Californians and for millions of acres of California agricultural and industrial uses.

Why is the Delta important to the rest of the world?  

     If you care about helping to feed other people of the world, the rice grown on the west side of the Sacramento River feeds hundreds of millions of people.  Water running through the Delta helps to create larger rice and staple farming areas to feed the world, not just the USA population.  One of the motivations for more demand of Delta water is to create larger land areas west of Sacramento for seasonal rice growing to export the rice to China and other areas of the world.  The USGS slide to the right describes an evolution "back to" a historic water flow and use of the land but is actually a revision of the Delta lands for several targeted purposes.  Restoration of the Delta to its historic flows would require that NO water be pumped out of the Delta.  The new vision for the Delta-the proposals on the table now- increase the amount of water pumped out of the Delta.  The rest of the world's hungry populations (and the businesses that sell the food product) will benefit if more water is taken from the Delta, even though the water rights belong to others.  The modern day Robinhood story is unfolding:  Take from the water-rich Delta so the state can sell to the water-poor Southern California and Central Valley farmers to build more houses and feed more of the world's population.

Misleading slide makes the view think the goal is restoration to the Delta's natural land use prior to reclamation.  However, the actual goal is a revision of the Delta for the purpose of exporting more high quality Sacramento River water.
What is the California Delta?
The Delta is a group of farming islands bordered by many rivers and sloughs (another name for a river) in Northern California.  The two main rivers of the California Delta are the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River.  Therefore, you will hear this same place referred to as "Sacramento River Delta", "Sacramento San Joaquin Delta", "San Joaquin Delta" and the "California Delta Region".  When California became a state, the Federal Government gave the "swamp and overflow" land to the state to be sold and reclaimed for farming and other beneficial uses.  Individuals bought the land areas and began the reclamation process by building levees and draining the land inside the levees.  Most Delta land remains privately owned, many farms still owned by the same family that originally purchased the land in the 1850's to 1900's.  Most of the open waterways are owned by the "public" meaning either the State of California or the US Federal Government.
When did the Delta reclamation begin & when did the Delta Islands form?

The Delta is a natural land formation that was listed as "swamp and overflow lands" when California was first surveyed before becoming a state.  Some of the Delta islands were naturally formed, as shown by the maps to the right, and there were natural levees with native trees and plants along the banks, as shown from a sketch from an 1861 publication.  Other islands were "reclaimed" lands as authorized by the state and federal governments in the 1800's.  The state sold the land to citizens to be reclaimed for use as farmland and other beneficial uses.  The land owners built up the levees to protect against the occasional floods that could happen in wet years.  The 1935 map to the right shows the Delta Islands at that time, which is very close to the Delta as it is today. 


Important to note:  The names of Delta Islands, rivers, waterways or sloughs and cities and city locations have changed over the years, which has caused confusion for persons who are not aware of Delta reclamation history.  So, for example, the map to the right lists islands called "Priest" and "Sutter" where Ryer Island stands today, and there is a Sutter Island in the more northern section.  And oddly enough, there are two Ryer Islands in Solano County, one in the Suisun Bay area, which further confuses the uninformed scientist, map reviewer or traveler.  The waterway names have also changed over time.  When the first maps were made of this area, the Sacramento River had several "forks" so the early maps reflect names like "Sacramento Middle Fork" which later was renamed "Steamboat Slough" by the time the 1861 book was published about the area.  Both the main Sacramento River and a winding part of the San Joaquin River were referred to as "Old River" at various times, so this can lead to confusion when reading historic books on the region.  Even the city names changed!  Where Rio Vista is located now, at least one early map refers to "Suisun City".  There really is a Suisun City, but its not in the Delta and not on the Sacramento River.  Even usually accurate online map websites like Google have gotten the island names confused over the last several years, which makes it hard for persons doing Delta research or traveling to the Delta.  The 1935 Soils Survey map to the right and the road map listed above give correct current names for the Delta Islands
What is a levee?


How many people live in the Delta and the cities of the Delta?
     Depends on who you ask.   According to the 2000 Census, and including the whole Legal Delta region, there are about 4.5 million people in the Legal Delta region.  This number includes the population of those portions of the larger cities located within the Delta:  Sacramento, Stockton, West Sacramento, Antioch.
     However, recent news media and the state website says there are between 450,000 and 500,000 people who live in the Delta.  This is because in the early 1990's the state redefined the Delta into a "primary and secondary" zone so that Delta residents of the larger cities would not be counted.  Why would the state do this?  Once again, the state is intentionally misleading the general public regarding Delta facts.  There's always a reason.  Perhaps the state does not want the general public to understand that the current proposed Delta revisions will negatively impact 4.5 million Delta residents, not "just" 500,000 Delta residents?
Who owns the Delta lands and levees?  
What do Delta land owners do with or on their property?

     Most of the 700,000 plus acres is used for farming.  Wine and table grapes, corn, saffron, hay, wheat, pears, the best cherries you will ever eat in your life, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, and many other vegetables and fruits are grown in the Delta.  Animals raised for food such as cows, lamb and chicken are raised in the Delta.  The Delta is also a good place to raise horses and hunting dogs and other domestic pets.  Some Delta land owners have developed marinas and RV resorts to take advantage of the great fishing and water sports rivers and sloughs found in the Delta.  And then there are the residential communities like what is found on Grand Island, Snug Harbor, along Hwy 160 at Isleton, Ryde, Bethel Island, Courtland, Clarksburg, Walnut Grove, Freeport, and the mobile home communities on Andrus Island like Korth's and El Rancho.  There is also industrial use of Delta lands in locations like Antioch, West Sacramento, Rio Vista and Stockton.

Who owns the Delta waterways and the Delta water?
     Here we need to recognize that there is land under the waterway, which is different from the water flowing through the waterway.   Some Delta waterway lands are owned or managed by the Federal Government because they are navigatable waterways; some are owned by the state of California because the state didn't sell its ownership in the underlying land to a private party or business, and some of the waterways (or portions of them) are privately owned because the state sold the land in the past. 

     However, ownership of the water flowing through the Delta is a different issue related to water rights.  This is a HUGE issue in California and the US.  "Who owns the water?" is the key question along with "Who gets to control the water?".  The Federal government wants to control the water, the state wants to control the water, the land owners with riparian water rights want to continue to use the water rights that came with the purchase of their land, fish want to use the water to stay alive, environmentalists want to use the water to create new habitat areas and promote carbon farming or tule farms to help the ozone, developers want to control the water so they can do more housing development in other areas, industrial companies want to control the water so they can expand their manufacturing processes, and Central Valley and SoCal farmers want to control the water so they can continue to make naturally desert lands into productive farmland.  Who owns the Delta water and who gets to control it are the big legal questions of the 21st Century.  The answers are very complicated and contentious.  We can not answer these questions and can only refer you to links on the subject. 

Reference links:
How many times has a Delta levee broken when Northern California has an earthquake?

0 That is right.   The first levees were built in the 1860's and by the 1906 huge earthquake in San Francisco the Delta was already developed with most of the islands as they are configured today.  Those levees were handmade and presumably less structurally sound than the levees of today.  In fact, no Delta levee has been shown to have broken or caused a flood in response to a bay area earthquake.  The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake was another one that took down bridges, roads and buildings in the Bay area.  Did any Delta levees fail?  No.

So why has the media made such a big deal about the "possibility" that a major Bay Area earthquake could destroy the Delta levees?  There are only two logical reasons....1) to convince the voting population that the levees are not sustainable so we might as well take them from the land owners and knock the levees down to create new habitat and tule farms and 2) to keep the Delta island land values as low as possible until the government can validate taking the Delta lands back from the farmers and businesses that bought the lands long ago.

Take a good look at the new map to the right showing the potential damage to California from the shaking of major earthquakes.  This study (if correct) should limit growth of any area in red for the protection of the population...right?  Why do we only hear about how limits should be placed on Delta development?  And if this study is correct, why hasn't a levee been damaged in a past earthquake?  Just because the government spent millions of dollars on scientific studies and created colorful fancy maps does not mean its the TRUTH.  The DRMS Phase 1 study is also a good example of science mis-applied to result in portraying false information.

How often have the levees broken or made the islands flood, and why should I care?
It depends on who you ask.  If you ask California's Department of Water Resources (DWR) or their consultants who produced the Delta Risk Management Study (DRMS) at a cost of $6,000,000, they will tell you the Delta levees have broken about 158 times up until 2004.  But the same agency will say 58 times in a different report.  DWR has admitted in writing that DRMS is wrong, but still use the report to validate current plans to revise the Delta.  If you ask the US Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency that is responsible for oversight of levees, and who regularly reports to Congress the status of the levees, they will say Delta levees have failed at most 31 times up until 2004.

     The sole reason DWR has been intentionally misleading the public and legislators about the risk of levee failure is to validate the state's claim that the Delta is "not sustainable" as the islands are configured today.  You should care because the officials who you elected into office, and the persons whose salaries and pensions you pay for through your income tax are intentionally fabricating facts as a means to an end.  If the state makes the wrong decisions about the Delta and water use, guess who's going to pay for the mistakes?

You.  California's urban water user and tax payer.


Verification DRMS is wrong as to Delta Island Flood History

Resources comparing Delta flood history

Example of wrong Delta Island history used in current scientific study, perpetuating the distribution of false information

US ACE 2006 Report to Congress

Who pays for a broken levee?


Is the Delta sustainable the way it is?  
How much water flows through the Delta each year and where is it going?  
Is there a limit to the amount of water that flows through the Delta each year? 

 California legislators have been selling contracts for water for years, and have sold more water rights than California can ever deliver even if the whole Delta was drained in the wettest year on record.  You know that old saying about selling the London Bridge?  Well, our crafty legislators have been selling the London Bridge over and over again and what is worse, California doesn't even own the bridge!  In a down economy the Federal government makes new money which is in effect a loan against the future taxes we will pay.  The state of California can't legally make dollar bills, so instead it sells water rights, which is in effect a promise to transfer water that they know will never exist.  However, the sales contract says the state has to deliver the water "only if its available" so in drier years when less water flows through the Delta, the state does not have to deliver any water.  Its in the contract and the water purchaser knew that when he/she signed the contract
What is killing the fish and other species in the Delta and why should I care?  
What is subsidized water and who gets it?  
How much water does the state sell each year and to whom?  
 Why should I pay for water that goes to a Central Valley farmer who then resells the water rights to someone else at a huge profit?  
What is the peripheral canal - also called a "conveyance" facility, water corridor or a plumbing project.  






















 Index Summary 
Compiled by Delta citizens and Delta Voices Last Modified :01/15/14 04:34 PM Copyright 2009-2013 ,