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Unformatted text preview: by Gary Pitzer 4 Western Water he critical condition of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has prompted the question of how it can continue to serve as a source of water for 25 million people while remaining a viable ecosystem, agricultural community and growing residential center. Developing a dual conveyance system of continuing to use Delta waterways to convey water to the export pumps but also building a new pipeline or canal to move some water supplies around the Delta is an issue of great scrutiny. Before such a proposal is imple- mented, a multitude of questions will have to be answered. How much will it cost and how will it be financed? Where will the water be drawn from? How much water is needed for a healthy ecosystem? How will right-of- way requirements be settled? Will it be an unlined canal, lined canal or a pipeline? How will it be coordinated with upstream projects and users? Managing the Delta for the states water supply needs has come into focus as a series of developments have revealed the extremely poor condi- tion of several fish species that are the bellwether of the estuarys overall well- being. In particular, the Delta smelts near-extinct status has been the basis of litigation and subsequent court ac- tions that have put officials on a course to find another way to manage the Delta for the many uses it serves. We have a tremendous problem going on in the Delta right now, said Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). The State Water Project is severely stressed; the Delta is in a complete state of ecological collapse its astonishing in its rapidity. This supply loss will lead to mandatory conservation for much of California. Last year, the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force a panel of experts appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended a two-pronged approach for a sustain- T The Nature Conservancys analysis led us to the conclusion that, short of ending water exports from the Delta, a peripheral canal is an essential component to restoring the conditions that Delta species need to survive. Mike Sweeney, The Nature Conservancy March/April 2009 5 able Delta, a process predicated on the co-equal goals of ecosystem health and water supply reliability. In addition to calling for increased surface storage and groundwater storage, the panel said Californians need to become less dependent on water supply from the Delta because of its fragile state. The Schwarzenegger adminis- trations cabinet-level Delta Vision Implementation Committee took the Task Forces recommendations and released a list of fundamental actions in December 2008. First on their list was a new system of dual water convey- ance through and around the Delta, with groundbreaking slated for 2011....
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