Drought to Close CA’s False River

22 Apr

Posted April 22, 2015 by KL

The long tidal slough known as False River is a popular, scenic shortcut for mariners traveling on the San Joaquin River in California’s Delta country. Its shallow spots are the stuff of legends, and having a personal (perhaps secret) route through is the mark of a river veteran.

By the way, there is more than one way to do it right, and there are many, many, many ways to do it wrong.

But that will not matter, apparently, in the summer of ’15. The California Department of Water Resources, concerned that False River is an intrusion point for extra salinity working into a dry river system, is seeking permits to temporarily dam the western end of False River. Here’s the word:

West-False-River-BarrierFaced with potentially insufficient water supplies to repel salinity in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), in consultation with federal and state water and wildlife agencies, is moving to install an emergency, temporary rock barrier across a Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta channel.

DWR seeks to install a single emergency salinity barrier across West False River in May, to be removed six months later, in November. State and federal water and wildlife officials, working as a Real-Time Drought Operations Management Team, have determined that the barrier would help deter the tidal push of
saltwater from San Francisco Bay into the central Delta. The barrier would be essentially a pile of
basketball-size rocks across the 750-foot-wide channel that still allows limited water flow upstream and downstream, depending upon tides. DWR, operator of the State Water Project, is seeking multiple permits from various agencies to accelerate installation.

Keeping saltwater from the central Delta is a priority, as a large portion of the state’s freshwater supplies travel through this part of the Delta. The barrier would help prevent saltwater contamination of water supplies used by people who live in the Delta; Contra Costa, Alameda, and Santa Clara counties; and the 25 million people who rely on the Delta-based federal and state water projects for at least some of their supplies.

Typically, when saltwater threatens to encroach deeper into the Delta, water project operators try to repel it either by slowing the pumping of water from the Delta or increasing the amount of water flowing into the Delta from upstream reservoirs. In this fourth year of drought, Delta pumping by the state and federal water projects is already negligible.

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This article was syndicated from BLUE PLANET TIMES

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