Mending the broken heart: How opening and stitching together social and ecological models of California’s Delta region can transform the trajectory of the state’s water management
The California Delta, where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers come together before flowing into the San Francisco Bay, functions as the heart of California. It is here that water originating from distal parts of the state mixes and is pumped to other far-flung regions, sustaining life, economies, cultures, and one of the biggest agricultural industries in the nation. However, for decades, water allocation planning has been steeped in controversy and legal gridlock, posing challenges for adaptation to rapidly changing climatic conditions, including increasing frequency and severity of droughts and floods and long-term changes in water availability. In other major estuaries such as the Chesapeake Bay and Florida Everglades, stakeholder-engaged, open-science modeling to evaluate multifaceted tradeoffs associated with water management decisions has created inroads through controversy and gridlock. Similar approaches, applied to specific challenges such as Chinook salmon management and localized wetland restoration in the Delta, have likewise promoted adaptive behaviors. In this talk, I highlight lessons learned from those examples and discuss how the Delta science community is incorporating those lessons into a larger-scale vision of “One Delta, one science, one modeling framework.” Fundamental to this vision are commonly held best practices, including widespread adoption of FAIR principles for model, metadata, and data dissemination, common cyberinfrastructure resources, and human resources to support outreach to communities not formerly represented in the use of models and implementation of best practices.