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SoCal water agencies press ambitious plan to remake Sacramento Delta

Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta Water System Bay

Mae Ryan/KPCC

60 miles southwest of the state capital, the Bay Delta is where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers merge, and where water from the north of the state mixes with water that meets in the San Francisco Bay. A third of the water in Southern California comes from this area.

Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta Water System Bay

Mae Ryan/KPCC

A farmer herds cows on a farm in the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta.

Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta Water System Bay

Mae Ryan/KPCC

An opponent to the Bay Delta plan holds a sign in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. He opposes the 30 mile long tunnels that would feed river water from above Sacramento, underneath the Delta, to pumps that would send the water south.

Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta Water System Bay

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Louvers at the Skinner Fish Facility in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta divert most fish away from pumps that lift water into the California Aqueduct. Decades of fights among government and water agencies, environmentalists and farmers, in courtrooms and conference rooms have culminated in the Bay Delta Plan, which will soon be open to public debate.

Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta Water System Bay

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Trucks filled with agricultural products cross a bridge over the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The so-called Bay Delta Conservation Plan has two "co-equal" goals that are at odds -- restoring the ecosystem while protecting water deliveries to Central Valley farms and Southern California’s growing population.

Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta Water System Bay

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Wetlands and tidal habitats in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have vanished; now salmon and dozens of other species struggle for survival.

Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta Water System Bay

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Electricity lines run through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. For most local ratepayers in Southern California, the money spent on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan may add an additional $5 a month on utility bills for decades.

Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta Water System Bay

Mae Ryan/KPCC

The California Department of Water Resources wants to restore the ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which supplies a third of Southern California's water.


The state begins taking public comments tomorrow on plans for its most ambitious water project ever. The California Department of Water Resources wants to restore the ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta, while replumbing how Southern California gets much of its water. 

KPCC's Molly Peterson says ratepayers here could foot much of the project's $25-billion tab.


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