Canal could help water problems in California, report says

A team of University of California-Davis researchers today is recommending that a peripheral canal is the best solution to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta environment and protect the fresh water that moves through it to millions of people and business in California.

California voters rejected a peripheral canal in 1982, amid opposition from some scientists and environmental groups who feared it would deprive the Delta of critical freshwater flows.

But times have changed. Worsening environmental conditions in the estuary have resulted in court-imposed cutbacks in Delta water exports. And new understanding about threats from climate change, floods and earthquakes have put a canal back on the bargaining table.

A peripheral canal would divert a portion of Sacramento River flows, near the town of Hood, into an isolated channel. That water would then be carried directly to state and federal water export pumps near Tracy. Those pumps divert Delta water to 23 million residents of the Bay Area and Southern California, and they kill fish and alter natural water flows in the process.

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