Strange times as Delta rivers flow downstream

You know it’s a flood in the Delta when all of its rivers are actually flowing toward the ocean.

Earlier this week, the Old and Middle rivers, which normally run backward as they feel the influence of the powerful state and federal export pumps, began flowing downstream instead.

Evidently there is so much water coming down the San Joaquin River that even with the pumps churning away the rivers have taken on an overall “positive” downstream flow. That flow on Thursday was a solid 5,000 cubic feet per second.

This is good news for people who rely on water pumped from the Delta, because the pumps can run at or near capacity. And it’s good news for fish like the Delta smelt, which are sometimes sucked into the pumps when the rivers flow backward. Instead, their offspring this winter will be washed ┬ámiles downstream, experts say — possibly as far downstream as San Pablo Bay.

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  • Blog Author

    Alex Breitler

    A native of Benicia, he lives in Stockton with his wife, Ann, who forces him to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada or Trinity Alps at every opportunity. He has been writing mostly about natural resources since 2003, first in Redding and now in ... Read Full
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