With Snowpack in Decline, California’s ‘Weather Whiplash’ Could Mean Alternating Drought and Flooding

KQED Science

A recent KQED Science piece tells us flooding along California’s San Joaquin River is going to become more severe over the next 50 years. Downstream communities like Stockton will see a far wetter future.

Flood planners, scientists, city leaders, and others agree that the cornerstone strategy to meet this increasing threat to vulnerable communities must be to expand and restore floodplains to accommodate higher flows.

As River Partners has proven time and time again since our founding in 1998, restoring floodplains provides broad benefits beyond reduced flood risk, including increased groundwater recharge and dry-year water supplies, improved water quality, restored fish and wildlife habitat, expanded recreational opportunities, carbon sequestration, and more. Read the full article.


John Cain, the conservation director for the nonprofit River Partners, would like to see large land areas opened up for rivers to spill into during huge rain events. Bypasses have helped protect places like Sacramento from flooding, but further south, he says, Stockton needs ways for the river to escape without harming people or property during big flood events.

“The Sacramento Valley has seen huge investments in the levee and flood bypass system over the 19th and 20th centuries, and by contrast, the San Joaquin Valley is that poor stepchild [that] hasn’t gotten the attention,” he said.