This study demonstrates the use of suspended-sediment concentration (SSC) data collected at Mallard Island as a means of determining suspended-sediment load entering San Francisco Bay from the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds. Optical backscatter (OBS) data were collected every 15 min during water years (WYs) 1995–2003 and converted to SSC. Daily fluvial advective sediment load was estimated by combining estimated Delta outflow with daily averaged SSC. On days when no data were available, SSC was estimated using linear interpolation. A model was developed to estimate the landward dispersive load using velocity and SSC data collected during WYs 1994 and 1996. The advective and dispersive loads were summed to estimate the total load. Annual suspended-sediment load at Mallard Island averaged 1.2G0.4 Mt (million metric tonnes). Given that the average water discharge for the 1995–2003 period was greater than the long-term average discharge, it seems likely that the average suspendedsediment load may be less than 1.2G0.4 Mt. Average landward dispersive load was 0.24 Mt/yr, 20 % of the total. On average during the wet season, 88 % of the annual suspended-sediment load was discharged through the Delta and 43 % occurred during the wettest 30-day period. The January 1997 flood transported 1.2 Mt of suspended sediment or about 11 % of the total 9-year load (10.9 Mt). Previous estimates of sediment load at Mallard Island are about a factor of 3 greater because they lacked data downstream from riverine gages and sediment load has decreased. Decreasing suspended-sediment loads may increase erosion in the Bay
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