The San Francisco Bay Estuary and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a region where two of California’s largest rivers meet the saltwater from San Francisco Bay, creating the West Coast’s largest estuary. The area is a blend of towns, highways, marinas and farmland. More than 50 island tracts are surrounded by levees and about 700 miles of sloughs and winding channels.
The Delta, the hub of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and California’s State Water Project, is among the most important ecosystems in the nation. Water from the Delta serves the federal and state water projects, which in turn, serve urban and agricultural areas in the San Francisco Bay area, the Silicon Valley, the San Joaquin Valley, the central coast and southern California.
One of many islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
The Delta itself sustains billions of dollars in agricultural and recreational activity. It is also the habitat for hundreds of species of plants and wildlife, and more than 50 species of fish, including some that are threatened and endangered.
The Delta has experienced significant ecological collapse as a result of 150 years of human activity, including California’s increasing demand for water; changing environmental and climate conditions; and stressors such as pesticides, pollutant discharges and invasive species. Long-term solutions are needed to ensure reliable, quality water supplies and a sustainable ecosystem. Since the 1970s, urban, agricultural and environmental interests have differed over how to balance water diversions with environmental restoration in the Delta. Reclamation and its partners have implemented short-term solutions and are developing long-term plans for Delta sustainability in order to avert further ecological decline while maintaining reliable water supplies.
Region’s Bay-Delta Office
The Region, in July 2010, created the Bay-Delta Office (BDO) to provide a holistic view of Reclamation’s effect and responsibilities on and in the Bay-Delta area and ensure that Reclamation’s management of CVP and Delta issues and activities were integrated across the management units of the CVP. The BDO is also the primary point of contact with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and other federal, state, and local agencies with which Reclamation collaborates on important issues and activities. The office is involved with numerous programs, projects and issues detailed throughout this report.
Several lawsuits were filed challenging Reclamation’s acceptance and implementation of both a 2008 FWS Biological Opinion (BO) and a 2009 NMFS BO and associated Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPA) for the Coordinated Long-term Operation of the CVP and State Water Project. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California remanded the FWS BO on December 14, 2010, and the NMFS BO on September 20, 2011. In both cases, the court found, among other things, that Reclamation had violated the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) by failing to conduct NEPA proceedings prior to accepting the BOs and associated RPAs. During 2011, the Bay-Delta Office has responded to several court orders and initiated development, in coordination with its state and federal partners, and other stakeholders, a plan to meet the court order requiring NEPA completion on the FWS BO by December 2013 and the NMFS BO by April 2016.
Because the BOs were remanded without “vacature” by the court, Reclamation’s responsibility to implement the BOs and associated RPA actions continues. The BDO continues to work in coordination with the other CVP management units, FWS, NMFS, the state of California, and our other partners, to meet these requirements.
The Interim Federal Action Plan for the Bay-Delta
The Interim Federal Action Plan (IFAP) for the San Francisco Bay Estuary/Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta was released by federal agencies in September 2009, and was updated for 2011 and beyond. The plan includes provisions for continuing coordination of the federal response to the California water crisis and continuing the partnership with the state of California in addressing California’s water supply and environmental challenges. The federal priorities outlined in the IFAP are:
- Work in concert with the state of California and local agencies.
- Encourage “smarter” use of Bay-Delta water.
- Ensure healthy Bay-Delta ecosystems and improve water quality.
- Help deliver drought relief services and ensure integrated flood risk management.
The Region in 2011 advanced three key projects included in the IFAP: Working toward the goal of “encouraging smarter supply and use of Bay-Delta water,” moving forward on the construction of a canal linking the primary federal and state canals south of the Delta to improve operational flexibility between the federal and state water projects (see page 30), and working toward “addressing the degraded Bay-Delta ecosystem.” As part of that work, the Region advanced the Red Bluff fish passage (see page 26) and Contra Costa fish screen (see page 38) projects toward completion.
Bay Delta Conservation Plan
Reclamation continues its participation in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) consistent with the IFAP goal of working in concert with the state of California and local authorities.
The BDCP has co-equal goals of providing conservation of sensitive species and their habitat and assuring a reliable water supply. Reclamation participates in BDCP, along with other federal and state resource agencies, to provide technical information and guidance, which ensures compatibility with CVP requirements and responsibilities. Reclamation is a co-lead agency in the development of the Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement for the BDCP.
The BDCP is working to:
- Identify conservation strategies to improve the overall ecological health of the Delta.
- Identify ecologically friendly ways to provide a reliable water supply to cities and farms.
- Address toxic pollutants, invasive species and impairments to water quality.
- Establish a framework and funding to implement the plan over time.
More information: http://www.usbr.gov/mp/BayDeltaOffice/index.html
Completion of the Contra Costa Fish Screen Project
|Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar at the Contra Costa Fish Screen Project dedication ceremony|
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor joined state and local officials on September 19, 2011, in dedicating a water infrastructure project that will help ensure a sustainable water supply while protecting sensitive fish species and the ecosystem they inhabit.
The Contra Costa Fish Screen Project at Rock Slough, constructed through a partnership between Reclamation and the Contra Costa Water District, advanced the IFAP for the San Francisco Bay/ Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by completing the screening of Contra Costa Canal intakes.
Reclamation awarded $25.6 million in ARRA funds to complete the state-of-the-art fish screen at Rock Slough, four miles southeast of Oakley, California. Flows are diverted into the Contra Costa Canal. The 48-mile-long canal, built by Reclamation, is the major water delivery system for the Contra Costa Water District, the CVP’s largest urban contractor.
The Rock Slough project completes the screening of the last of the district’s four Delta intakes for protection of resident and migratory fish species, including the threatened Delta smelt and other threatened and endangered fish species that might otherwise be drawn in from the Delta.
The district serves municipal and industrial customers and a population of about 500,000 people in Contra Costa County. The district’s water supply capability and reliability is essential to the population and stability of the region’s economy.
As a significant step forward in environmental mitigation in the Delta, the fish screen project advances the IFAP for the Bay-Delta while also helping to fulfill requirements of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act and of the 2008 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Los Vaqueros Biological Opinion for the threatened Delta smelt.
A view of the fish screen and Rock Slough
Water passes through the new fish screen
Helping Both the Environment and the Economy
Completion of Patterson Fish Screen Project
Representatives of the Mid-Pacific Region joined officials from partner agencies on September 29, 2011 at an opening ceremony for a fish screen intake project on the lower San Joaquin River in California’s Central Valley. Regional Director Don Glaser spoke on behalf of Reclamation, which supplied half of the funding for the project, which is located about 25 miles south of Tracy, California.
Patterson Irrigation District’s new facility prevents fish, such as Chinook salmon and steelhead trout, from entering the intakes, which provide water for irrigation of 13,500 acres of cropland. The opening of the multi-benefit fish screen and pumping facility marked another milestone in efforts to restore California fish populations while building a more secure and sustainable water supply for California. The project advanced the IFAP for the Bay-Delta; the Anadromous Fish Screen Project as authorized by the Central Valley Project Improvement Act; and the CALFED Bay-Delta Ecosystem Restoration Program.
Patterson Irrigation District General Manager Peter Rietkerk and Regional Director Don Glaser during the dedication ceremony
Pumps draw water through the new fish screen into an irrigation canal
The $13.8 million project was funded and constructed through a cost-sharing partnership between Reclamation, the California Department of Fish and Game, and the Patterson Irrigation District. Reclamation awarded about $6.9 million for the project and the state contributed about $5.4 million of voter-approved bond funding. The district, which first proposed the project about a decade ago, contributed about $1.5 million to complete the cost-sharing agreement.
Construction and Inundation, Twice
Construction, which did not interrupt irrigation water deliveries or interfere with fish migrations, began in June 2010 with placement of a temporary cofferdam around a 35-year-old pump station on the San Joaquin River. Construction involved driving more than 420 steel piles to varying depths and pouring a six-foot-thick concrete foundation on the river bottom to support the entire structure.
The construction site flooded in January 2011 due to high river flows. After the water receded, the contractor installed formwork and reinforcement and placed about 3,500 cubic yards of concrete for the new structure.
The site flooded a second time in March 2011. When water receded, crews again resumed work, placing backfill and new pumps. The district used temporary pumps in the San Joaquin River, as well as other available groundwater and CVP contract resources to meet its needs. The new pumps were finished and the switchover to the new pumps came in July 2011.
The completed Patterson Fish Screen Project
Pumps and Screens
The new, energy-efficient station pumps at the rate of 195 cubic feet per second, the same rate as the previous system. There are seven pumps, including a harmonic pump to maintain a constant level in the district’s canal. Flat-plate screens meet federal and state design criteria, which require a slot size of about 1/16 of an inch. Screens are kept clean of debris by an automatic system consisting of brushes on automatic arms.