Keep the Delta Clean

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta system is the largest estuary on the United States Pacific Coast.

Published: March, 2007 

The Delta is the physical hub of California’s two largest water distribution systems that supply drinking water to two thirds of the State’s population, irrigation water for over seven million acres of farmland and support many recreational activities. The Delta is also home to a variety of wildlife including approximately 22 species of fish, 164 species of birds and 53 other wildlife species. The Pacific Flyway also passes directly over the Delta providing critical habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.

Over the next few years, the population of the six counties adjoining the Delta (Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo) is expected to dramatically increase. These counties currently have approximately 170,400 registered boats. The number of boats recreating in the Delta is expected to increase with the expanding population.

To protect the Delta’s precious resources and accommodate its growing urban population, a regional partnership has been created between the Contra Costa County Public Works Department, City of Stockton, Sacramento County, San Joaquin County, Yolo County, the California Coastal Commission and the Department of Boating and Waterways to implement a Proposition 13 (State Water Resources Control Board) funded program. The program uses education and pollution prevention to preserve and protect drinking water quality, recreational activities and environmental health in the Delta. Some goals are to:

Establish Pollution Prevention Infrastructure by establishing pollution prevention policies and infrastructure such as sewage pump-outs, hazardous waste drop-off collection centers, pet-waste collection points, and refuse/recycling containers. Drop-off centers will accept used motor oil and filters, oil/fuel absorbent bilge pillows and pads, marine batteries and empty oil bottles from boaters and the general public. 

Monitor Water Quality by sampling prior to, during and following major boating holidays to measure water quality conditions related to hydrocarbons and pathogens. 

Work with volunteer Dockwalkers, to distribute 15,000 free boater kits at marinas, club meetings and special events throughout the Delta. Boater kit recipients can fill out a Recreational Boater Survey, which is used to obtain information on boaters’ knowledge of environmental services and how they currently dispose of trash and hazardous materials while boating and maintaining their boats. The survey information will help to identify gaps in the pollution prevention infrastructure and target priority educational messages to boaters. 

Provide a Recreational Boating and Environmental Services Map with information about marina operation, general characteristics, and publicly accessible environmental services. Map online:

For more information about the Keep the Delta Clean! You play in it. You drink it too! program (grant funding provided by the State Water Resources Control Board), call (925) 313-2313 or email or