Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Water is as Near as Your Kitchen Sink

Recently published by Metropolitan Water District, Orange County

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta east of San Francisco Bay is so far from Orange County that most of our residents probably don’t know where it is or why it matters. Simply put, the Delta provides drinking water for as many as 25 million California residents, including those in Orange County. This vast and vitally important ecosystem is home to hundreds of aquatic and terrestrial species, as well as more than 500,000 people, and is a thriving agricultural economy and a distinctive recreational resource. Equally important, in addition to water supplies for millions, it supplies an agricultural industry that, in turn, feeds millions of us, producing much of the nation’s produce. Why should Orange County residents care?

Because the Delta has been stretched to the breaking point and the water that many Californians depend upon is at risk. The ecosystem is in steep decline. Environmental restrictions on water deliveries meant to protect Delta fish have also greatly reduced the flexibility to meet statewide water supply needs.

We need a plan. And we have one. Called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), this seven-year work was produced by a team of federal and state water experts, scientists and public water agencies working together to balance the needs of the environment with California’s human and economic needs. To secure water supplies and protect the economy, the BDCP will provide water managers with a reliable and predictable amount of water; protect against water supply disruptions for 66 percent of the state’s population; protect water supplies from catastrophic failure due to earthquakes or failed levees; boost the state’s ability to respond to drought and climate change; create 137,000 jobs; and isolate water supplies from increasingly stressed Delta levees.

At the same time, the plan significantly enhances the health of the Delta ecosystem, improving natural flow conditions for fish and wildlife and restoring 30,000 acres of aquatic habitat in the next 15 years. An important component of the Conservation Plan is a conveyance system made up of twin tunnels 30 miles long and 40 feet wide, using gravity flow to maximize energy efficiency as it passes as much as 9,000 cubic feet per second under the Delta. As the Delta ecosystem improves in response to BDCP implementation, water operations will become more reliable and secure. The direct benefits to water users – reliable supplies, reduced regulatory and legal uncertainty, improved water quality and reduced seismic risk – make the plan well worth the cost. For Orange County water users, the Delta may seem far away. But in reality it is as close as your kitchen sink! For more information, contact Bryan Starr, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs. For more information, contact Bryan Starr, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs.

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