Discussions about California water supplies have too often become fact-free discourses that fail to advance an informed discussion. The State Water Contractors’ “Delta Doozy” series distinguishes the facts from the fiction to promote constructive dialogue.
Today’s Doozy comes in response to comments in an August 23 article in the East Bay Express - “Brown's Tunnels Could Start in 2018, and Delta Farmers Say They'll Be Devastated.”
“The farmer begins explaining how three years ago, at the peak of the drought, river flows grew so weak that salty water from San Francisco Bay crept far inland. State officials responded by proposing an emergency plan to keep the brackish intrusion from fouling the fresh river water: They would build a rock dam to divert the freshwater that flows through this slough — a side channel of the Sacramento River — into another waterway, called Georgiana Slough, that leads to pumping stations near Tracy. Those pumps, in turn, send delta water into two large transport canals to San Joaquin Valley farmers and cities in Southern California.
‘They were trying to protect the water that they're contracted to deliver to the San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles,’ Baker explains.
Ultimately, state water managers never implemented the plan, and the saltwater intrusion never quite reached a crisis. However, in their brief moment of panic, officials with California Department of Water Resources had revealed their cards: It was clear to Baker the state agency that handles much of California's water each year was ready to leave Delta communities high and dry while sending what many locals would consider to be their water to politically powerful regions hundreds of miles away.”
Truth be told: The purpose of the barrier proposal was to meet water quality standards throughout the Delta during the state’s driest year on record. In fact, during this time, the State Water Project contractors were allocated only five percent of their contracted supplies. In-Delta diversions comprised the majority of diversions that summer.
The barrier was part of California’s emergency declaration and was proposed and designed to conserve cold water for salmon in upstream habitats and protect Delta water quality.
The State Water Contractors is a statewide, non-profit association of 27 public agencies from Northern, Central and Southern California that purchase water under contract from the California State Water Project. Collectively the State Water Contractors deliver water to more than 25 million residents throughout the state and more than 750,000 acres of agricultural land.