The California Delta debate: Resurrecting the canal

California as we know it today was built largely on this fantasy:

That arid cities in the south could indefinitely satisfy the thirst of a growing population by importing water from the north.

The fantasy endured for a while, buoyed by water diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, it drains 40 percent of California, transporting vital snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada across the state.

Recent events have revealed the truth: California is reaching the limit of its water supplies, and the economy and the environment are suffering for it.

The future offers even harsher realities: Global warming is drying up the snowpack and natural disasters could shatter the Delta.

Now, the state's water planners are proposing the most sweeping landscape change in America, resurrecting an audacious notion for re-plumbing this state – a controversial idea that many thought died long ago.

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