Skip directly to: Main page content

Delta Solutions

Delta Solutions

Center for Watershed Sciences

Watershed Sciences Building - 1st Floor
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

(530) 754-9133
FAX (530) 754-9364

Winter Quarter 2009
January - March

Delta Expert Presentations
- open to the public -

Student-Led Seminars

On Demand Viewing

Mondays' Delta expert presentations are available for on demand viewing online.

How to Watch

The Delta, Peripheral Canal and the Future of California (2009)

Lead Instructors: Peter Moyle + Jay Lund (Carole Hom, coordinator)


The focus of this class was to provide an integrated view of the Delta, its past, and its future, with a final debate on the social, environmental, economic and political consequences of building – or not building – a peripheral canal.


The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the physical heart of California. Not only is it the center of the Central Valley and the upper part of the iconic San Francisco Estuary, but it is a major node of for California’s water delivery system, sending water to the Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California urban areas. It is also central to controversies over water for fish vs. humans, with enormous economic and ecological consequences. In 1982, the voters of California overwhelmingly defeated a proposition to build a canal around the Delta to deliver water more effectively to southern users. This defeat was unexpected by the water community and reverberates in water policy to the present day.

Today the Delta is undergoing rapid environmental change that has helped to create 5 endangered species of fish and collapse of fisheries. Another major change in the system is predicted to happen within the next 50 years, which will push salt water to the pumps that send water south, greatly reducing water export quality and quantity. This has brought the idea of a peripheral canal to the fore again, in part as the result of two reports by an interdisciplinary team of UC Davis biologists, economists, engineers and a geologist, published by the Public Policy Institute of California.

In this class, we will read and evaluate these reports, talk with experts from inside and outside the university, and read of the background material the UC Davis-PPIC team also produced, as well as a new report from the CALFED Science Program.

Class Structure

  1. On Mondays, 4:10-6pm, 60 minute presentation by an expert, followed by a discussion.
    1. In the discussion, students will act as members of a narrow interest group and ask the speaker ridiculous questions.
    2. With 2-4 outside speakers, there will be an informal dinner for 10-12 students.
    3. The seminar will be open to the public and taped or simulcast for those who missed it and for the record.
  2. On Fridays, 10-11:50, student seminar in which two students will:
    1. summarize the high points of the earlier seminar;
    2. present additional information from the reading;
    3. put their own spin on what they learned and provide suggestions for solutions to problems.
    4. If there is no Monday seminar, then the discussion will be based on topics selected by students with assistance from core faculty.
    5. Jan 9 will be an organizing class in which Moyle et al. provide a general discussion, based on reading Healey et al. (2008) (available in class on 5 Jan and online).
  3. 1-2 brownbag lunches to be scheduled to compensate for Monday holidays; used to discuss writing assignments for PBG 250B.
  4. The final class session is a 2-hour hearing on building a peripheral canal, with two interdisciplinary teams, pro and con.
  5. Assignments for all participants:
    1. Read PPIC Reports #1 & 2.

      Envisioning Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
      Jay Lund, Ellen Hanak, William Fleenor, Richard Howitt, Jeffrey Mount and Peter Moyle. February 2007. Public Policy Institute of California.

      Comparing Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
      Jay Lund, Ellen Hanak, William Fleenor, William Bennett, Richard Howitt, Jeffrey Mount and Peter Moyle. July 2008. Public Policy Institute of California.

    2. Read The State of Bay-Delta Science, 2008.

      The State of Bay-Delta Science, 2008
      Michael Healey, Michael Dettinger and Richard Norgaard, editors. 2008. The CALFED Science Program.

    3. Lead a Friday discussion and participate in Monday discussions.
  6. Assignments for PBG 250B students only:
    1. Short paper dealing with how considerations from some discipline (i.e., one of the lecture topics) affect the Delta.
    2. Op-ed (650 words) on peripheral canal or similar topic (collaboration OK).
    3. Fact sheet (2 pages) on PC for legislators (collaboration OK).
    4. Participate in mock legislative hearing (two interdisciplinary teams, pro and con).
    5. Participate in field trip to Delta.

Tentative schedule

Monday Simulcasts Friday
5 Jan Intro to the Delta
Peter Moyle (UC Davis), Jay Lund (UC Davis)
Watch 9 Jan Discussion
12 Jan Environmental Change
Jeff Mount (UC Davis)
Watch 16 Jan Discussion, 2 seminars
19 Jan Holiday None Available 23 Jan Discussion, 2 seminars
26 Jan Environmental History
Louis Warren (UC Davis)
Watch 30 Jan Discussion, 2 seminars
2 Feb Economics
Richard Howitt (UC Davis), Ellen Hanak (PPIC)
Watch 6 Feb Discussion, 2 seminars
9 Feb Governance
Holly Doremus (UC Davis)
Watch 13 Feb Discussion, 2 seminars
16 Feb Holiday None Available 20 Feb Discussion, 2 seminars
23 Feb Endangered Species
Bill Bennett (UC Davis), Mark Lubell (UC Davis)
Watch 27 Feb Discussion, 2 seminars
2 Mar Integrating Science, Policy and Management
Cliff Dahm
Watch 6 Mar Discussion, 2 seminars
9 Mar Managing Water and Salinity
Bill Fleenor (UC Davis)
Watch 13 Mar Discussion, 2 seminars

Delta Field Trip

Weekend, To Be Determined

Final Exam: Mock Peripheral Canal Hearing

Wednesday, 18 March, 10:30am-12:30pm