Sacramento River Delta

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The Sacramento Delta. The Sacramento River enters the diagram from the north, flowing south then west. The San Joaquin River enters from the south, flowing north past Stockton.
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The Sacramento Delta. The Sacramento River enters the diagram from the north, flowing south then west. The San Joaquin River enters from the south, flowing north past Stockton.

The Sacramento River Delta is an expansive inland river delta in northern California in the United States. It is formed at the western edge of the Central Valley by the Sacramento River at its confluence with the San Joaquin River just east of where the river enters Suisun Bay (an upper arm of San Francisco Bay). The city of Stockton is located on the San Joaquin River near the southeast edge of the delta.

The delta consists of a myriad of small natural and man-made channels (locally called sloughs), creating a system of isolated lowland islands and wetlands (defined by dikes or levees). The extensive system of earthen levees has allowed wide-spread farming throughout the delta, one of the most fertile agricultural areas in California. However, a burst dike can result in the flooding of a vast tract of land. On June 4, 2004, a 350 foot (110 m) section of a levee 10 mi (16 km) west of Stockton collapsed, flooding the Upper Jones Tract, a 648 acre (2.6 km²) "island".

The many channels throughout the delta are a popular destination for boating and fishing, and provide habitat for migratory birds. Before the building of more modern highways, automobile transportation throughout the area was accomplished by roadways along the levees and one of the most extensive systems of cable ferries in North America. Today, channels of the delta are spanned by over 50 drawbridges.

The Sacramento River Delta is given as an example of an inverted river delta. The fan-shaped area of the of the delta converges downstream, rather than diverging, as the two rivers are forced to exit the Central Valley through the Coast Range via the narrow channel known as the Carquinez Strait leading into the San Francisco Bay.

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