Salt water barriers may come to Sacramento Delta, amid squabbling

sacramento delta photo
Photo by Greg Balzer

The California Department of Water Resources says it doesn’t need to file an Environmental Impact Report before installing salinity barriers in the Sacramento Delta to prevent intrusion of salt water from the San Francisco Bay into the crucial Sacramento River. Locals in the Delta strongly disagree, and rightfully protest degradation of their area (which has enormously fertile farmland) for the benefit of the Central Valley and southern California.

Current salinity levels are at 200, which is safe. A 900 reading is a warning and 1,400 would be apocalyptic. A few big rains and the problem would be gone for this year. However, if the drought continues, then barriers will probably need to be used. The problem is the Sacramento Delta and River provide large amounts of water for the entire state, with canals sending water hundreds of miles southward. In a serious drought there simply isn’t enough to go around, and salinity intruding simply cannot be allowed. Once the salt is in, it’s very difficult to get it out.

In my opinion, those in and around the Delta generally getting shafted in water fights against much bigger and better funded Central Valley and SoCal water interests.

It may look like just a sleepy little slough 30 miles from California’s capitol, but the Steamboat area in Courtland is really a hotbed of worry – all about water and how salty it may become in the intensifying drought.

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