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Delta Watermaster Overview

Office of Delta Watermaster

Delta Challenges

The Delta is an inland estuary located at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers just before their outlet to San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The Delta is comprised of a network of islands, channels and wetlands which make up the largest estuary on the Western Coast of the United States. The Delta is the hub of California’s water management system as well as an important ecological system supporting a variety of species, several of which are protected under endangered species acts. The Delta ecosystem and the water management facilities located there are under pressure from a variety of natural and man-made stressors including:

  • water diversions from its natural tributaries;
  • withdrawal of a portion of its water to meet the needs of users throughout the State;
  • invasive species which compete with or prey upon its endangered natives;
  • the constant risk of salinity intrusion from the Ocean and of salinity concentration by farming;
  • degradation in its water quality from historic causes such as hydraulic mining and current causes such as farm and urban runoff;
  • channelization of its waterways and the fragility of some of its levees;
  • oxidation and erosion of friable peat soils which have left some islands subsided below the surrounding water table;
  • complex (and sometimes conflicting) regulatory constraints; and
  • a clash of public and private interests that has generated decades of litigation and conflict.

The Office of the Delta Watermaster was created as part of the Delta Reform Act of 2009. The Watermaster is an independent officer of the State, appointed to a four-year term by the State Water Resources Control Board, reporting jointly to the Water Board and to the Delta Stewardship Council. The Watermaster is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day administration of water rights, and, when necessary, for taking enforcement action, related to water diversions within the Delta. The Watermaster also confers with and assists both the Water Board and the Stewardship Council as they carry out their respective legislative mandates to achieve the dual objectives of enhancing the Delta ecosystem and improving water supply reliability within the constraints of the water rights system and of the Delta as an evolving place.

Questions and Assistance

Contact the Office of the Delta Watermaster
U.S. Mail:  Office of Delta Watermaster
                  State Water Resources Control Board
                  P.O. Box 100
                  Sacramento, CA 95812-0100
Email:       deltawatermaster@waterboards.ca.gov
Lauren Barva
Email: lauren.barva@waterboards.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-8264