The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is in ecological crisis. Urban growth, pollution discharged into the Delta, invasive species and aging levees will have an ever-increasing negative impact on the environmental health and economic sustainability of the region if left unmanaged.
However, the greatest threat presently to the Delta is the Department of Water Resources’ plan to build new conveyance to move water out of the Delta.
Starting in 2000, water exports to Central and Southern California reached record high levels under the current practices of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Federal Bureau of Reclamation. This increase in pumping Delta water increased salinity in waterways that were primarily fresh water, and changed water quality in a way that is more favorable for the reproduction of invasive species.
While exports have been reduced due to recent court rulings, the DWR, in its recent analysis of dual conveyance, affirms that with the construction of a peripheral canal, water exports can increase to 8.5 million acre feet per year. Water exports, prior to Judge Wanger’s ruling, were too excessive to sustain the Delta, yet even then, water exports never exceeded 6 million acre feet annually.
How will building a new conveyance facility reduce water exports – especially seeing that the state is planning for a facility that will move more water than ever from Northern California to large corporate farms throughout the San Joaquin Valley? What the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta needs is the restoration of fresh water flows so that fisheries can heal and family farming can continue to be part of California’s natural heritage and cultural legacy.
I believe that any reduction of flows from the Delta will allow so much saltwater intrusion as to kill all of the existing freshwater life. Many animals come to the water to drink; they will all die. The Delta is on the path for millions of migrating birds that will have no place to stop along the way.
Thousands of residents use wells to sustain themselves. That water will become too brackish to use. Depleting fresh water from the system is a bad idea. Let’s use some of the many water storage ideas that do not damage the ecosystem.
Jeffrey Allen, Oakley