Water Project Development (Cont. from November Newsletter)

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The Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley brings interested parties together to discuss water issues for our region, advocates in Sacramento and Washington for project funding, but also, helps identify and develop water projects to save jobs along with our local economy.   

Projects are identified in close consultation with local water agencies.  One significant project that we would like to highlight first is a fish friendly diversion in the Delta.  

Millions of acre feet (trillions of gallons) of water on average years are available for use in the Delta.  This accounts for environmental requirements to maintain fresh water in the San Joaquin Delta, as well as, usage for legal water rights for communities and farms.  

Historical legal challenges has made moving water out of the Delta challenging. Water flows into the Delta because it is a convergence primarily the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers in a below sea level area of California. Because of the lower elevation of the region, pumping is required to move water out of the Delta.  Through this process, fish species have been harmed, which has inhibited Central and Southern California from having access to the excess water.  

The Water Blueprint has engaged engineering firms to look at the problem of moving high flow, flood waters with minimal impact, if any, to the local environment.  These firms have studied the issue and have found solutions utilized in other parts of the country.  

A fish friendly diversion could be just the solution to protect the environment and our economy.  The concept is to move water through a passive, French drain-type system.  Islands within the Delta would make constructing this realistic, while having minimal environmental impacts.  Water agencies have acquired islands in the Delta over the years.  Channels would be created in the island(s), where the drain system would move the water to a separate basin, which would then be pumped into delivery systems for use.  

One key factor why this helps fish, is because of the design.  Currently, pumps draw water from the “sides” of the Delta, along with fish.  This system will passively allow water to go through a media at the bottom of the channel, moved to an area that doesn’t have fish, before being pumped.  Because of fishes buoyancy within the water column, the fish will not be stuck at the bottom of the channel.  

It is quite an undertaking, but we know it is worthwhile to fight for our economy. This has been proven, but not on the scale that is needed to have a meaningful impact for our region.  We are advocating for a pilot project to ensure the model is scalable before making the large public investments necessary to make this a reality.

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