California Water Plans


Delta Vision

Delta Visioning Process (completed December 2007)

Our Vision for the California Delta (Final Report) Jan. 17, 2008



Delta Vision is intended to identify a strategy for managing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as a sustainable ecosystem that would continue to support environmental and economic functions that are critical to the people of California.



Pacific Institute

Sept 8, 2008

More with Less: California Agriculture Can Thrive While Conserving Water.  Report Identifies Efficiency Improvements that  Help Save Water, Save Money, and Save the Delta

(Oakland, Calif.) – California farmers can grow more food and fiber with less water, according to a new analysis released today by the Pacific Institute, Oakland, California. The report, More with Less: Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency in California – A Special Focus on the Delta, offers a comprehensive analysis of how to maintain a strong agricultural economy while improving the efficiency of water use and reducing groundwater overdraft and water withdrawals from the critically threatened Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.




Public Policy Institute of California 

Comparing Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

July 2008


Jay Lund, Richard Howitt, Peter Moyle lead authors.

Jay Lund, Ellen Hanak, William Fleenor, William Bennett, Richard Howitt, Jeffrey Mount, and Peter Moyle

For over 50 years, California has been pumping water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for extensive urban and agricultural uses around the state. Today, the Delta is ailing and in urgent need of a new management strategy. This report concludes that building a peripheral canal to carry water around the Delta is the most promising way to balance two critical policy goals: reviving a threatened ecosystem and ensuring a reliable, high-quality water supply for California.


July 2008, 184 pp.
ISBN 978-1-58213-130-6
No Charge
Availability: Online Only

Full Report

Short Summary

Technical Appendix

Press Release

Press Release in Spanish

Peripheral Canal Is Best Strategy To Save Delta Ecosystem, Ensure Reliable Water Supply State Leaders Urged to Chart Sustainable Future for Ailing Region

SAN FRANCISCO, California, July 17, 2008 -- Building a peripheral canal to carry water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the most promising strategy to balance two critical policy goals: reviving a threatened ecosystem and ensuring a high-quality water supply for California’s residents. That is the central conclusion of a report released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

Under current policy, water is drawn from the Sacramento River and sent south through the Delta to enormous pumps that deliver water to millions of households in the Bay Area and Southern California and millions of acres of Central Valley farmland. This approach, which disrupts the natural water flow, has threatened native fish and made the Delta attractive to invasive species. Furthermore, it is unsustainable. Projected sea level rise, crumbling ancient levees, larger floods, and high earthquake potential will inevitably result in a dramatically different Delta environment. This environment will have saltier water, which will be much more costly to treat for drinking and ultimately unusable for irrigation, the report says.

Although it would be best for fish populations if California stopped using the Delta as a water source altogether, this would be an extremely costly strategy, according to the report, authored by a multidisciplinary team including Ellen Hanak, PPIC associate director and senior fellow, and Jay Lund, William Fleenor, William Bennett, Richard Howitt, Jeffrey Mount, and Peter Moyle from the University of California, Davis.

The PPIC-UC Davis team concludes that a peripheral canal is not only more promising than the temporary and ultimately unsustainable “dual conveyance” option – which combines the current approach with a canal – but is also the best available strategy to balance two equally important objectives.

“Coupling a peripheral canal – the least expensive option – with investment in the Delta ecosystem can promote both environmental sustainability and a reliable water supply,” Hanak says.

The new report, Comparing Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, builds on the findings of a 2007 PPIC study by the same team, which concluded that the need for a new Delta strategy is urgent. The new report was funded in part by Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Among its recommendations:

“Choosing a water strategy is just the first step,” UC Davis researcher Lund says. “The technical, financial, and regulatory decisions necessary to plan for a new Delta are enormous. The governor and legislature need to be involved in setting up a new framework to manage the challenge.”


The Public Policy Institute of California is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. The institute was established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett. PPIC does not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor does it endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office.