Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 32

TH E N E W E CO N O M IC S O F WATE R

Reducing CO2 Emissions in the
Bay Delta Could Reverse Erosion
Audrey Arnao

THE SACRAMENTO-SAN JOAQUIN River
Delta is a crucial component of California's
water supply that is facing political, economic
and environmental challenges due to the
subsidence of land and an overall strain on
the Delta's resources and infrastructure.
Once a naturally functioning estuary, the
Delta has been engineered to deliver water
from the water-rich Sacramento River
watershed in Northern California to meet
extensive agricultural and municipal needs
in the arid San Joaquin Valley and Southern
California. Freshwater originating as
snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is pumped
south through the Delta into the stateoperated State Water Project (SWP) and
federally-operated Central Valley Project
(CVP) canal systems. Over 6.3 million
acre-feet per year is conveyed through the
Delta annually to support the agricultural
economy of the San Joaquin Valley and
25 million residents in southern California.
However, environmental concerns regarding
threatened and endangered species have
limited the ability to pump water through
the Delta and limited SWP and CVP water
deliveries, particularly during dry years.
Dams and levees funnel freshwater
south, while enabling farmers in the Delta to
cultivate crops on the exposed fertile islands.
The diversion of freshwater away from the
Delta and intense agricultural production
has led to a 10-to-25-foot subsidence, or
sinking, of the islands and a loss of habitat
for threatened and endangered species. This
puts greater pressure on the Delta's levees
and results in a high risk of levee failure,
saltwater inflow and contamination of the
state's water supply. Stakeholders in the Bay
Delta estuary have introduced a number of
proposals to improve the Delta's ecosystem
and structural integrity. The SacramentoSan Joaquin Delta Conservancy (Delta
Conservancy) recently proposed a carbon
sequestration program within the Delta
wetlands that could provide incentives for

32 * Water Resources IMPACT

September 2017

Delta water users to restore the Delta and
maintain the water supply that serves twothirds of California's population.
The Delta Conservancy's methodology,
which was developed with funding from
the California Coastal Conservancy,
Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California and California Department of
Water Resources, involves transforming the
Delta's islands into managed wetlands by
retiring farmland and allowing the islands
to flood. Rather than digging up soil from
the sinking islands, which is necessary
for farming but releases carbon into the
atmosphere, private landowners and state
agencies can sequester carbon within
wetlands and sell the greenhouse gas offset
credits to polluting industries in a voluntary
market. If the islands are managed as carbon
banks, wetland plants would grow, die, and
rebuild the elevation, reducing the strain
on the levees and lowering emissions. The
Delta Conservancy hopes to first apply the
protocol to wetlands owned by state agencies,
accumulate credits to generate revenue,

then work out additional agreements with
landowners in areas that are becoming
too wet to farm. At full scope, the carbon
sequestration program aims to retire
15,000-30,000 acres of farmland and stop
1-2 million tons of CO2 from being released
yearly. It is also expected to sequester 5 to 6
tons of CO2/acre from the atmosphere yearly.
Land retirement and carbon
sequestration has potential to help restore
the Delta, but economic incentives must
be established. Development of a carbonoffset market could generate revenue and
replace lost farm income. This will entail
finding willing buyers who need to offset
their environmental impact and can afford
to purchase the credits. The approval of the
sequestration methodology is a promising
first step, and if the markets prove viable,
carbon banking could help preserve
the Delta. ■
Audrey Arnao is a research undergraduate
summer intern at WestWater. Contact:
arnao@waterexchange.com.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017

President’s Message
Growing Up…with Managed Aquifer Recharge
Aquifer Storage and Recovery as Means to
The Regulatory Environment of Managed
The ASCE-EWRI Standard Guidelines
Managed Aquifer Recharge:
Managed Aquifer Recharge: A Global Perspective
What’s Up with Water? Sisyphus, Heraclitus and WOTUS
The New Economics of Water: Reducing CO2 Emissions in the Bay Delta Could Reverse Erosion
Domestic Well Aquifer Storage and Recovery Using Seasonal Springs
Philosophy and Ethics: The Rio Grande and the Ganges Rivers: How Human ‘Success’ is Choking the Life out of Two Great River-Spirits
ASR: Aquifer Storage Rescues a Small Water Supply District
Putting Aquifers to Work: MAR Applications in Nutrient Removal
Summer Conference Recap
Harvesting Glacial Meltwater with Managed Aquifer Recharge
AWRA State Section and Student Chapter News
In Memoriam: Peter E. Black
Herbert Scholarship Award Recipients for 2017-2018 Announced
August JAWRA Highlights
2017-2018 Editorial Calendar
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - intro
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - cover1
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - cover2
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 3
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 4
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - President’s Message
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - Growing Up…with Managed Aquifer Recharge
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 7
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - Aquifer Storage and Recovery as Means to
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 9
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 10
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - The Regulatory Environment of Managed
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 12
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 13
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - The ASCE-EWRI Standard Guidelines
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 15
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 16
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - Managed Aquifer Recharge:
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 18
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 19
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - Managed Aquifer Recharge: A Global Perspective
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 21
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 22
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 23
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 24
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 25
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 26
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 27
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 28
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 29
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - What’s Up with Water? Sisyphus, Heraclitus and WOTUS
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 31
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - The New Economics of Water: Reducing CO2 Emissions in the Bay Delta Could Reverse Erosion
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - Philosophy and Ethics: The Rio Grande and the Ganges Rivers: How Human ‘Success’ is Choking the Life out of Two Great River-Spirits
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - ASR: Aquifer Storage Rescues a Small Water Supply District
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 35
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - Summer Conference Recap
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 37
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - AWRA State Section and Student Chapter News
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - In Memoriam: Peter E. Black
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - Herbert Scholarship Award Recipients for 2017-2018 Announced
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 41
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - 2017-2018 Editorial Calendar
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - cover3
Water Resources - IMPACT - September 2017 - cover4
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