In another bizarre turn of events due to California’s drought, a canal that feeds the San Luis Reservoir in the San Joaquin Valley now flows 'backward' for the first time in its 64-year history.
If you've ever driven up the 5 Freeway to Northern California, you've passed by the 117-mile channel called the Delta-Mendota Canal. It normally flows from north to south.
But due to cuts in pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and Lake Shasta — because of tightened water-use restrictions and regulations that protect Chinook salmon — farms and communities that use water from the canal as it flows downstream are now being forced to pump water back upstream, north from the San Luis Reservoir.
How do you change the direction of a stream of water?
Ara Azhderian is the water policy administrator for the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority. "It's energy and pumps. Rather than the water flowing downhill, we have to lift it up and push it uphill," he said. "It's crazy. It's just crazy."
Azhderian estimates the operation could cost approximately $2.5 million by summer's end. The San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority hopes to receive financial assistance from state and federal agencies to help cover the cost.
Listen to the full interview by clicking the blue audio player above.