SF Bay-Delta Conference: Science for Solutions

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Successfully resolving California’s long-standing water supply and ecosystem restoration conflicts in the Delta requires developing sound policy solutions based on data derived from the best available science.

Bay-Delta Science Conference logo

Advancing that cooperation is the backdrop for the 9th Biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference, Nov. 15-17, 2016, jointly sponsored by the Delta Stewardship Council and the U.S. Geological Survey.

“This is a major conference that highlights the most recent discoveries that influence management decisions on the Delta,” said Dr. Cliff Dahm, Lead Scientist for the Delta Science Program. “Achieving the goals of creating a reliable water supply for cities and farms while improving the aquatic ecosystem for fisheries, recreation, and tourism requires science that expands our knowledge of ecosystem responses, produces data that directly supports decisions, and builds long-term, resilient solutions.”

vineyard and other agricultural fields with tree in forground
Vinyards and Agricultural Fields in California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

More than 1,000 scientists, managers, and policymakers will gather in Sacramento to discuss the latest advances in scientific information and ideas on water resource management in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, its watershed and the San Francisco Bay.

“Collaboration among scientists, managers, and stakeholders is necessary for research to be as informative and useful as it can be to those charged with making the major decisions that lie ahead. This biennial conference is a very effective way to make those connections,” said Mike Chotkowski, the Bay-Delta Science Coordinator for the USGS.

San Francisco Bay and the Delta, formed by the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, is the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, the hub of both state and federal water projects, home to many unique native species and a region of agricultural and recreational importance. Conflicts among human uses for water and conservation of the Bay-Delta and its watershed have bedeviled policy makers for decades.

This year’s conference theme, “Science for Solutions: Linking Data and Decisions,” is in the spirit of “One Delta, One Science” and highlights how management of the Bay-Delta ecosystem continues to be a critical crossroads with political and regulatory mandates seeking new ways to manage water exports while restoring landscape-level ecosystem attributes and functions.

To support these activities requires that scientists make connections among external drivers, management actions and ecosystem responses. Perhaps more critical, the scientific and management communities must make connections to ensure a two-way flow of needs, resources, ideas and understanding.

pintail ducks taking flight from marshlands with cityscape in background
Pintail Ducks Rising from the North Unit of the Yolo Bypass near Sacramento, California

The conference will be held at the Sacramento Convention Center, 1400 J Street, and begins with a plenary session at 9 a.m. on Nov. 15. Participants include:

- Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, will discuss the science required to identify water quality standards that improve aquatic life protection while maintaining protection for water uses. 


- Phil Isenberg, former Chair and Vice-Chair of the Delta Stewardship Council, and now with the Public Policy Institute of California, will discuss how state policies and partnerships can sufficiently fund science and monitoring programs to produce data and expand our knowledge so we can identify and employ actions that improve fishery, ecosystem and water supply management. 


- Dr. Peter Moyle, Center for Watershed Sciences at U.C. Davis, will discuss how joint science-based policy studies from U.C. Davis and the Public Policy Institute of California have shown alternative pathways to the future other than the status quo. 


- Dr. Cliff Dahm, Lead Scientist of the Council’s Delta Science Program, will discuss what directions Delta science efforts should take following the scientific advancements since the previous Science Conference.

Several special sessions include:

- Drought and Water Management – Managing for Droughts; Water Rights Curtailment .

- Contaminant Issues in the Bay-Delta – Toxic Algae Issues; Herbicide, Insecticide, 
and Pesticide Issues.

- Lost in Translation – The Art of Interpreting Complex Science for Policymakers.


The conference also features sessions on:

- Winter-Run Chinook Salmon Science & Management in a Changing Climate – Needs to Achieve Fish Viability; Impacts of Shasta Dam Water Operations.

- Art at the Conference – How art and science can work together to increase awareness of estuarine ecology; Using artistic principles to communicate scientific concepts. 


This year’s conference is co-chaired by Dr. Nann Fangue, a wildlife, fish and conservation biologist at U.C. Davis, and Dr. Erin Foresman, an environmental scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. More information, including a full program is available online.

still waters reflecting image of grasses growing next to it, with bright blue sky.
Grasses along the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Central California