New push to shore up shrinking Colorado River could reduce water flow to California by 2 feet
The Los Angeles Times – The Colorado River flows through Southern California and is part of the state’s largest water transfer. But water deliveries under the River to the West have been falling to a trickle, and experts warn that a major effort to rebuild the delta of the river in Central California will take at least 10 years to be completed.
In the meantime, water managers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the largest wetland system in the West, plan to expand its reservoirs to raise the levels of the Colorado River and relieve pressure on the Sacramento River, which supplies the San Francisco Bay Area.
Under the plan, the Delta’s existing reservoirs will be pumped full when the water levels in them reach 12 feet below sea level. But the water will not be replaced.
The water will instead be used to restore natural functions like nutrient cycling that are essential to life on the delta, said the Delta Water Agency in Sacramento, which is managing the project.
“It is not a matter of cutting back on the Delta,” said David Smith, the agency’s chief water resources engineer. “It is a matter of restoring a natural balance of the delta system.”
A long-term solution for the dwindling water in the Colorado River is hard to find. California faces a growing shortfall in water supplies from the water it gets from the Colorado River, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and other sources. The state expects to be on the verge of an unprecedented drought this year after two years of dry weather.
In an attempt to avert shortages, the federal government has proposed to build a canal that would pump up to 70,000 acre feet of water daily from the Colorado River to the Sacramento River, and have the water flow back to the Colorado in the form of a river with a small delta.
The Delta plan is another long-term solution to the water shortage. But the project is on hold, and many experts doubt that the two-