The San Francisco estuary is composed of San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. It is the largest estuary on the West Coast. The San Francisco Bay and Delta system support various economic activities, including shipping, sand mining, and recreation. The freshwater that earlier flowed into the delta is used for agriculture and water supplies. This can recently become an issue for the ecosystem due to the alteration in the salinity of the marine water. Other threats to the delta include urbanization and climate change.
The San Francisco Bay and Delta today face many challenges that need to be addressed to restore its ecosystem. Among the biggest challenges that we have are sewage spills and their crumbling infrastructure that is caused unacceptable levels of pollution to the beaches. It has caused destruction to over 90% of shoreline wetlands and also to 40% of the aquatic ecosystem.
It has led to the protection of more than 90 species and animals in this region.
Occasional drought has also caused problems to the agricultural and economic sector of the delta. Other natural disasters, including earthquakes and floods, have also caused problems in the past, affecting the water supplies to San Diego's homes.
The CMHRP is also involved in the San Francisco estuary projects that included habitat conservation, resilience, restoration, and studying the sea levels. The researchers and scientists at CMHRP study sediment transport, natural process, and human intervention in the estuary to come up with better solutions to improve the health of the ecosystem.
Marshes help maintain the elevation with the rising sea levels by accumulating sediment transported from adjacent waters. Several marsh restoration projects have been successful, but even today, marshes dynamics are poorly understood.
Both state and federal agencies manage the water supply from the San Joaquin Delta. The agencies make sure that the water projects under them are safe to provide water to people while also safeguarding the species. The fisheries have declined in the delta, and some of them have become endangered. There are new projects for the major restoration of endangered and threatened species.
CMHRP and USGS Water Resources Mission Area are working on learning about the species in the water to gain a better knowledge of their protection. The results of these results will help in better management of the ecosystem. It will accelerate habitat restoration of the bay and delta regions while also providing sufficient water to the nearby regions.