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Delta Water Quality Study

Reducing Non-point DOC and Nitrogen Exports from Rice Fields in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta, 2004 - 2006

Collaborating Organizations:

Contra Costa Water District, Bachand & Associates, USGS, Hydrofocus Inc., UC Davis Department of Land Air Water Resources, Ducks Unlimited and San Joaquin County Cooperative Extension.

Funding Organization:

Department of Water Resources and CALFED, Proposition 13

Project Description:

The peat soils through much of the Delta have oxidized during nearly 100 years of farming resulting in great subsidence, sometimes nearly 30 feet below sea level.  The Delta is an important conduit for moving water with approximately 22 million Californians depending upon this water. Thus, the subsidence has resulted in large levees lining the Delta waterways to channel the water and prevent flooding to the islands.  This configuration poses great risks to the supply and quality of drinking water for many Californians. 


In 2004, Bachand & Associates teamed with several organizations in the first assessment on the feasibility of growing rice in the Delta.  This project focused on better understanding the water quality impacts of rice as opposed to other farmed crops and recommending management practices to minimize those effects.   Additionally, this project assessed the economics and ecological impacts of rice.  California winters approximately 20% of the continental waterfowl population and as much as 60% of the Pacific Flyway population.

This project was managed by Contra Costa Water District. Bachand & Associates was the technical lead and led surface hydrologic studies. We recommended management practices to more effectively and efficiently manage surface water to rice fields. Finally, we collaborated closely with Ducks Unlimited and San Joaquin County Cooperative Extension in outreach efforts.   Bachand & Associates was the lead author on the final report, which included specific recommendations on better management practices.

Publications and Final Reports

Bachand & Associates, Hydrofocus, Inc., University of California, Davis, U.S. Geological Survey, Ducks Unlimited, & Contra Costa Water District.  SWRCB Agreement No 03-165-555-0.  2006.  Reducing Non-point DOC and Nitrogen Exports from Rice Fields:  A Pilot Study and Quantitative Survey to Determine the Effects of Different Hydrologic Management Practices.  May 19, 2006. http://www.hydrofocus.com/Rice_Final_Report.pdf