The California Department of Water Resources plans to install a temporary rock barrier in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to reduce salinity that might otherwise result from the drought, officials said Wednesday.
The $28 million dam is designed to prevent a worst-case scenario in which Delta waters become too salty for the 25 million Californians and 3 million acres of farmland that depend on it, DWR officials said. It would work by mitigating the push of salt water from San Francisco Bay into the central Delta.
Funds for the dam would come from Proposition 50, a water bond approved by voters in 2002, and from general fund dollars, officials said.
The dam would be composed of “basketball-sized” rocks across a 750-foot-wide channel on the West False River northeast of Oakley in Contra Costa County, according to a DWR statement. The department hopes to have the dam in place next month and remove it by the end of October. It will need several permits from different agencies to speed installation.
Last year, the Department of Water Resources proposed constructing three temporary dams. The agency halted the project after winter storms provided adequate runoff to avoid salinity problems. At the time, some Delta farmers expressed concern that the dams could harm their irrigation supplies by causing salty water to back up into the affected sloughs.
DWR spokeswoman Nancy Vogel said the department this year is opting to install one barrier instead of three because of concerns about potential harm to threatened and endangered fish.
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