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June UNL Water Tour examines California Bay-Delta


This year's University of Nebraska-Lincoln water and natural resources tour will visit Northern California's Bay-Delta region June 15 to 18.

"California's Bay-Delta is a unique ecosystem, as well as the source of water for much of the state's population and a major source of agricultural irrigation water," said tour co-organizer Michael Jess, associate director of the UNL Water Center.

The Bay-Delta, or simply Delta, is the largest fresh water estuary on the west coast. It is formed where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers join. Delta water drains into San Francisco Bay, immediately to the west.

"The area was chosen for this year's tour because it provides an opportunity for comparison with water use and endangered species recovery efforts in our own Platte River valley," Jess continued. "Also, water right transfer procedures and water resources planning are important issues in both states and will be featured elements on the tour."

Tour stops include several agricultural producers in the area, including a former Nebraska grain producer. Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District and several facilities operated as part of the California State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project are also on the itinerary.

A scale physical model of the Delta, constructed in the 1950s inside a 4.5-acre building used to build patrol boats for the U.S. Navy during World War II, also is on the itinerary.

A full day will be spent in the Delta itself, Jess said.

"Its channels are used for commercial navigation, fishing and recreation and are home to several endangered fish species. Complicating management of water resources in this area is a deteriorating levee system, completed more than 75 years ago, that protects highly productive agricultural lands on the Delta's many islands," Jess said.

Other tour stops are Oroville Dam, the tallest earthen dam in North America and a key feature of the California State Water Project; and visits to state and organizational offices in Sacramento for overviews of California institutional structure, hydrology, water demands, water rights, etc. Part of these discussions will focus on where the state's water supplies and demands are located, how the water is transported and how the Bay-Delta acts as both a conduit and impediment to the state's water delivery system.

The tour will be headquartered at Sacramento's Embassy Suites Hotel. Individual registration, which costs $1,290, includes all motor coach, ground and water transportation, food, lodging and related expenses. Registrants will arrange their own travel to and from the tour.

To register, contact Lydia Loewenstein, Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce, 308-237-3168 or e-mail lloewenstein@kearneycoc.org before May 15. Registrations are limited.

Tour cosponsors are Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, The Flatwater Group, Gateway Farm Expo, Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce, Nebraska Public Power District and UNL's Water Center, School of Natural Resources and Conservation and Survey Division.

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