NWNL Spotlight

Field Expedition: March 14–26

Basins To Be Covered:
Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta
Sacramento River Basin (Antioch to Colusa)
San Joaquin River Basin (Stockton to Tulare)

San Joaquin River

Source: Thousand Island Lake, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Major Tributaries

  • Fresno Slough
  • Merced River
  • Mokelumne River
  • Stanislaus River
  • Tuolumne River

Terminus: Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Suisan Bay and then San Francisco Bay

Sacramento River

Source: Spring Hill at Mt. Shasta in the Klamath Mountains

Major Tributaries

  • American River
  • Butte Creek
  • Cache Creek
  • Clear Creek
  • Cottonwood Creek
  • Deer Creek
  • Feather River
  • Pit River
  • Putah Creek
  • Stony Creek

Terminus: Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Suisan Bay

San Joaquin River, aerial view

Research Team: Alison Jones (Dir.); Barbara Folger (Proj. Coord.)
Expedition Team: Alison Jones (Dir.); Annette Alexander (photographer)
Office Support Team: Jasmine Graf (Assoc. Dir.); Alysha Bartunik
Outside Resources: American Rivers; The World View of Global Warming

Justifications / Criticality of Issues Investigated:

  • This 3-year-drought in California is being seen as a one-in-500-year drought. Information garnered will be publicized and shared to help others mitigate and adapt to droughts elsewhere. Globally, droughts are expected to become more frequent and severe due to increased water demands and global warming.
  • Nearly 50% of US consumption of vegetables, fruit and nuts come from California, so the impact of farming and job losses will affect global and US food supplies and prices; the state of US economy in general; and foreign trade.

Expectations / How this Spotlight matches NWNL Mission and Goals:

  • This Spotlight will help raise awareness of drought causes and impacts.
  • This California drought offers interesting comparisons to Africa’s Omo River Basin (a NWNL case-study watershed), despite obvious regional disparities. California and the Omo Basin both face issues of water scarcity, dam infrastructure, livelihoods at risk, and fair groundwater and riparian rights.
  • This Spotlight will follow the NWNL Methodology of establishing watershed values, stakeholder identities, present and future threats, consequences of those threats and sustainable management solutions. Resulting research and documentation is expected to enhance NWNL visibility.

Outputs: Still photographs, video footage and stakeholder interviews will document the causes, impacts and potential solutions of California’s ongoing drought. Resulting materials will be reported in NWNL Spotlight blogs, social media, videos, magazine articles, lectures and exhibits.

Parameters: Like all NWNL Spotlights, this project has a one-time focus with a minimum time commitment. This NWNL Spotlight has met required approval by the NWNL Director and three advisors.

Caption for Photo Below: The San Joaquin is reduced to a trickle west of Fresno due to the many diversions of its Sierra Nevada run-off for agriculture. See the NWNL blog for American Rivers on the documenting of the San Joaquin River, titled “A Desert Runs Through It.”

San Joaquin River