Document Details

Gone with the flow

Peter Vorster, Christina Swanson, Jonathan Rosenfield, Gary Bobker | August 1st, 2010


The Bay Institute’s primer Gone with the Flow describes in plain language how runoff flowing from the mountain watersheds ringing California’s Central Valley provided coldwater paradises for salmon returning to their native streams; turned lowland rivers and their floodplains into a rich source of food and shelter for young fish; mingled in the Delta’s complex maze of marshes and sloughs; and created a vast expanse of brackish water habitat essential for estuarine creatures in the upper reaches of San Francisco Bay.

The primer also explains how the lack of access to most upland streams now forces migratory fish to cope with undesirable, often lethal flow conditions; how runoff in lowland rivers has been shifted from spring to summer, or even almost completely cut off in the San Joaquin basin, with disastrous consequences for the environment; how reverse flows in Delta channels kill hundreds of millions of aquatic organisms each year; and how the Bay is now in a permanent ecological drought because of the diversion of half its freshwater inflow.

Keywords

Central Valley, endangered species, fisheries, flows, water project operations, water quality

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