Monday, 15 June 2015

the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers Delta

We had 48 hours in the lovely city of Berkeley, California after flying in from Guanajuato, Mexico, via Houston and before flying home to Australia.

On 11 June 2015 we drove out of town to Sacramento and from Sacramento turned south towards Stockton...
but then had the audacity to turn off the GPS and duck down to the Stone Lake Wildlife Refuge and then to Courtland, a village on the Sacramento River.

From Courtland we followed the river south, into wonderful landscape and complex issues. This is the inverted delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. Called 'inverted' because unlike most deltas, its opening to the bay is small and it fans out upstream.

In the middle of the 1700s Spaniards saw this area in flood, from San Francisco Bay, and thought it a vast inland sea. It was in fact marshland teaming with life.

In the middle of the 1800s, gold was found near here and the earth-moving, water-shifting, draining and dyke building skills of the gold miners spread to draining the peat swamps, reclaiming land for agriculture. Rich lands — but sinking below sea level as the peat swamps collapsed. The whole area now under increasing threat with rising sea levels... and subject to competing demands and regulations.

This delta is the source of water for a huge proportion of southern California. Water is currently drawn off downstream. There is controversy about the governor's wish to take off water further upstream.

There are big issues for the future: a tangle of law, regulation and politics, demands for water and agriculture, rules for the protection of the environment and pressures of human needs. This main article and at links down that page, provide a good introduction, or it did for me.

Download a pdf history and analysis of continuing subsidence and management issues, from University of California (Davis) here.
More information here and here.

Others may have comments to add.

I have assembled this little film. It reaches a climax at the vertigo-promoting but little-known Antioch Bridge.

This is a quick and personal film. I have embedded a longer documentary of importance below. Please watch!

As I recorded film clips, these CDs were playing through the sound system of the rental car.

Fishing Music, a collection of acoustic folk, blues and swing, purchased from the Thrift Shop in Falls City, WA (the shop down behind the firearms shop on the main street)

Philip Corner's Satie Slowly purchased at Amoeba Music, Haight St San Francisco.

Now here is the 20 minute movie to give you more serious background, from

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