News Feature | January 8, 2014

California Moves Forward On Contentious Bay Delta Proposal

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


The California Department of Water Resources is planning “its most ambitious water project ever," as KPCC put it.

The state is attempting to save the ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta while also protecting the state's water supply.

In other words, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan "has two 'co-equal' goals that are kind of at odds -- restoring the ecosystem while protecting water deliveries to Central Valley farms and Southern California’s growing population," KPCC said.

Concern about the delta, commonly known as the Bay Delta, dates back years. The department describes the issue with urgency. 

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta "is a great natural treasure and a vital link in the state's water system, spanning five counties in northern California at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. As a result of the State's increasing population, demand for water and changing environmental conditions, the Delta is in jeopardy of collapse," the department explained. 

The effort will be expensive. The cost could soar as high as $25 million, KPCC said, and ratepayers may get stuck footing the bill. 

"For most local ratepayers, that probably means an additional $5 a month on utility bills for decades," San Francisco Examiner reported

Now plan is currently moving forward, and the department has put its proposal up for public comment. The administration released major documents about the project last month. The documents detailed "its plans to build twin tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and complete the last link of the water system began [which] more than a half-century ago," the Examiner said. 

Restoring the delta is a divisive issue in California. 

"Decades of fights among government and water agencies, environmentalists and farmers, in courtrooms and conference rooms have brought California to this place," the report said. 

Capital Public Radio pointed out that the project has a ways to go before any accord is reached. 

"State and federal agencies will hold public meetings early next year but the project faces many more hurdles before breaking ground," the report said.

Image credit: “Sandhill cranes at Stone Lakes NWR," © 2010 USFWS Pacific Southwest Region, used under an Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license:

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