Epic coming battle to stop saltwater intrusion into Sacramento Delta

Credit: Calwatchdog.com
Credit: Calwatchdog.com

The Sacramento Delta supplies large amount of water to California. The continuing drought means freshwater flows from rivers will not be able to push back salt water from the San Francisco Bay. If salinity in Delta water increases significantly, “the water will be unusable.” This would be a disaster.

Some 25 million people and 3 million acres of farmland depend on Delta water. The Delta has a $1 billion water-related recreation economy comprised of 8,000 jobs. South of the Delta is a $25 billion annual farm economy.

State officials plan to stop the saline intrusion in an old-school yet effective way. They will build temporary rock dams at three crucial points to stop the water. This was successfully done during the drought of 1976-77. Let’s hope it works again this time.

As usual, California is way behind in enacting its lofty goals.

The estimated cost of a gate as of 2007 was $20.975 million. That is only about 1/1000th of the $18.7 billion in water bonds issued in California since 2000. Despite how critical a saltwater barrier gate would be in a drought, the gate still remains uncompleted.