As a child, Brett Baker learned farming fundamentals from his grandfather, who taught him to drive a tractor and gave him some advice about water.

"There may come a time," his grandfather said, "when you have to grab a shotgun and sit on the pump."

The vast delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers east of San Francisco, where Baker's family has lived and farmed since the 1850s, has long been the center of the state's chronic water conflicts.

It is the switchyard of California water, the place where the north's liquid riches are shipped to the irrigation ditches of the San Joaquin Valley and the sinks of Southland suburbs.

Now, as if heeding Baker's grandfather, the delta has become the defiant seat of rebellion against the most ambitious water supply project proposed in California in decades, a multibillion-dollar plan that has the backing of the administrations of Gov. Jerry Brown and President Obama, as well as the state's most powerful irrigation and urban water districts.

For more, see: Delta, accustomed to water wars, prepares for battle