Statement for Where the Rivers Meet & Delta Residents Survey

For Immediate Release: 10/31/23 

Contact: Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, (209) 479-2053, 

Today, October 31st, Secretary Crowfoot hosted a discussion with leaders and governance from across California on the topic of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. A part of Crowfoot’s Secretary Speaker series, this session focused on how the Delta is a biodiversity hub, how it plays an important role for serving communities and agriculture, and future climate planning efforts. However, even with this discussion, there is still a lack in proper engagement and collaboration for protecting Tribes and Delta communities.  

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta

“If the State cares about Delta communities and climate planning for the estuary as they said today, then they need to perfect tribal consultation for difficult processes like the voluntary agreements.  They also need to be meeting with and talking regularly with Delta rural and urban communities. It is more important to talk to those with whom we don’t agree to solve problems. In fact, such discussions are the most important for a healthy future.” 

The Delta Residents Survey Results are In! 
Long Awaited Data released in October 2023  

With the Where the Rivers Meet Seminar of the Delta, it is evident that Restore the Delta holds a strong presence of support with Delta communities. We want to point out that with open processes for all communities and individuals, more trust can be gained, rather than back-door negotiations that certain state agencies have conducted for the voluntary agreements for example.  
Delta Residents were asked an open-ended question: “Who do you feel best advocates for your interests in the Delta?” Restore the Delta was the most-mentioned of the Community-based organizations. (page 56) 
Here are some other highlights…. 

About the Survey 
“The 2023 Delta Residents Survey was a first effort of its kind in the Sacramento-San Joaquin 

Delta to develop a rigorous survey research methodology to begin to assess important social indicators affecting Delta residents’ well-being.” 
“Data collection for this project was funded by a contract agreement between the Delta Science Program, Delta Stewardship Council (Contract DSC-21143), California Sea Grant, and California State University Sacramento.” 

Why Conduct a Survey? 
“In 2009, the Delta Reform Act created the Delta Stewardship Council to advance California’s “coequal goals” for the Delta: “a more reliable statewide water supply and a resilient Delta ecosystem – in a manner that protects and enhances the unique characteristics of the Delta as an evolving place where people live, work, and recreate….” 
What were the goals of this survey? 
“The DRS had four substantive research aims: 

1. Characterize residents’ sense of place; 

2. Assess well-being of a diverse and evolving population living in the region; 

3. Understand residents’ experiences and perceptions of environmental and climate changes across the estuary; 

4. Evaluate residents’ civic engagement and perceptions of governance in the region.” 

Researchers found out a lot about conducting research in the Delta including that many of us have P.O. Boxes in town because mail delivery can be spotty.  


See a detailed description of the methodology of this survey in Appendix B


Sense of Place:

Delta residents across the region hold strong shared understandings of why the Delta is important— as a critical ecosystem, California’s water hub, a good region for outdoor recreation, and an important agricultural region for the state. Yet, the diverse Delta community also holds02 multiple place meanings and identifies with many different aspects of the Delta. For example, rural residents are attached to the region’s quiet and solitude and report significantly more pride for the Delta and connection to the natural environment, while urban residents are more attached to the outdoor recreational access the Delta provides. Place attachment is higher overall among respondents identifying as men, older age, White, higher education, higher income, homeowners, or living in households speaking only English; whereas, respondents identifying as men, Latino or Hispanic, younger in age, lower education, or living in multilingual households report significantly higher dependence on the Delta for their jobs, livelihoods, or subsistence. 

Quality of Life:  

Many residents across the region value the scenic beauty and access to recreational opportunities that the Delta provides. When it comes to regional concerns, many residents also share concerns about aging infrastructure in the region, including the levees, bridges and roads. Rural residents express significantly greater concerns for the Delta Conveyance/Tunnel project and access to highspeed internet, while urban residents express greater concern for traffic and transportation options. Furthermore, social inequality in the Delta is apparent from the survey results. More than one-quarter of respondents indicate affordability of basic needs (housing, food, transit, healthcare) as a major challenge to their quality of life; people of color report these challenges at significantly higher rates than White residents. 

Risk and Resilience to Climate Change:  

Unsurprisingly, following recent years of significant environmental and climate change impacts including the early2023 major floods, 2020-2022 extreme drought conditions, 2020 record-breaking wildfire year, over three-quarters of Delta residents are concerned about the threats that climate change poses to the Delta over the next couple of decades. While residents have varying perspectives about what approaches should be taken to adapt to climate threats, the majority support the state funding sustainable agriculture and increasing land for habitat restoration. The diversity of residents in the Delta also means there is a variety of preparedness among residents to face climate change impacts. For example, low-income residents and people of color have significantly less access to important resources for climate resilience, such as climate-controlled environments, mobile devices with internet, and emergency financial resources. Civic engagement and governance: A majority of respondents indicate placing greater trust in scientific experts, local residents and community advisory groups, than in policy makers at local, state or federal levels, to make decisions in the best interest of the Delta. Membership in community groups and organizations was low across all respondents, though older and rural residents tended to be more involved in community groups than younger and urban residents. 

We encourage everyone to read the entire report to help us better understand ourselves and what we as a community want to create as we continue our work to Restore the Delta. 

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