Reflecting on the Delta, Delta Week 2020

By Senator Bill Dodd

It’s hard to overstate the importance of our Delta to the people of California. Not only is it the lifeblood of our water supply, critical for drinking and agriculture, but it supports a vibrant ecosystem in one of the largest estuaries in North America.

Keeping it healthy over the years amid environmental and human-caused challenges has been a priority of its many stewards including the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy and the Delta Protection Commission.

Two years ago, I teamed with both agencies to highlight threats to the precious waterway by designating seven days each September as Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Week. We kicked it off with an organized cleanup in which hundreds of volunteers descended on the region, removing tons of garbage from designated wetland areas.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic is preventing us from gathering again this year to mark Delta Week’s third anniversary. The risk of infection is too great. However, individual, self-guided cleanups are planned and educational initiatives will play out on social media.

Because even though we are not scouring shorelines and trudging across tidal marshes this year to fish out discarded tires and rusted old appliances, protecting the Delta remains vitally important. Awareness is key.

Simply put, the Delta is an ecological wonder of global significance. And it is threatened on multiple fronts. Climate change is reducing the amount of fresh water coming into the estuary, upsetting fish and bird populations. At the same time, sea level rise and historic farming practices have caused the Delta region to sink below sea level.

So much is riding on protecting a region that provides water to more than 25 million Californians and 3 million acres of agricultural land. It’s a habitat for more than 750 species of plants and wildlife as well as more than 55 species of fish.

It provides migratory waterfowl an important stop on the Pacific Flyway. Each year, the world-class recreational destination attracts nearly 12 million visitors.

And it’s home to more than 500,000 people with 200,000 jobs, contributing more than $35 billion annually to the state’s economy.

Suffice it to say, the Delta is important. So while we may not be reading a proclamation this year in the Legislature or gathering in groups to volunteer, I encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect on the Delta and if possible, go out on your own to do your part. Officially, Delta Week kicked off with individual cleanup Sept. 26, but I urge you to get out over the next few days and do what you can. Remember to wear your face mask.

The pandemic and record wildfires have made this a challenging year. I’m hopeful things will be better in 2021. I look forward to seeing you then, in the Delta.

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Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, Solano, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties. More information on Senator Bill Dodd can be found at www.senate.ca.gov/dodd.