Publication Date

Spring 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Kathryn Davis


delta, networks, problem solving, smelt, water

Subject Areas



The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) serves as the crossroads for many geographic networks that crisscross California. These include a conveyance network for drinking water, a biological network for delta smelt, and a transportation network for roads. As a result, local Delta issues concerning flooding and endangered fish hold implications for the entire state. This thesis explores these underlying network structures that pass through the Delta as a means for solving subsets of these most difficult challenges.

Recognition of these larger networks enable the transformation of the Delta's convoluted maze of waterways and islands into a series of nodes and segments. Network principles of backup routes, shortest paths, and busiest intersections are applied to uniquely Delta problems resulting in lists for potentially stranded islands, optimal monitoring sites for delta smelt, and select paths for levee fortification. This thesis concludes that networks can be a versatile tool not only for the Delta but wherever networks exist. Especially with increasing clashes between people and nature, networks offer a way to connect seemingly disparate problems with solutions in the form of specific locations that establishes the starting point for stakeholders to work towards a compromise.