Can carbon credits save Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta islands and protect California’s vital water hub?

Water Education Foundation –

An ambitious plan would use carbon credits as incentives to convert delta islands to wetlands or rice to halt subsidence and potentially raise island elevations

The islands of the western Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are sinking as the rich peat soil that attracted generations of farmers dries out and decays. As the peat decomposes, it releases tons of carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – into the atmosphere. As the islands sink, the levees that protect them are at increasing risk of failure, which could imperil California’s vital water conveyance system.

An ambitious plan now in the works could halt the decay, sequester the carbon and potentially reverse the sinking.

The plan would provide a carrot for farmers in the western Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to convert their island acreage to rice fields or managed wetlands in order to cut carbon emissions from the decaying peat and protect their lands and communities as well as California’s water hub. The Delta is the “switching yard” for moving water to the massive pumps for the State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project.

Shepherded by the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, the Delta Carbon Program is near completion of the first-ever third-party verification of wetlands that quantifies the carbon emission reduction estimates from 1,600 acres of managed wetlands on Sherman and Twitchell islands operated by the California Department of Water Resources.

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