Gates planned to protect fish where pumps divert water to Calif. farming, cities

A plan to build gates across two channels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta channels has strong support from state and federal leaders, though little is known about how the project would affect the environment.

The so-called "two gates" project would build moveable gates across Old River and Connection Slough. The channels bracket Bacon Island in the heart of the estuary. They are key passages for water and aquatic life moving between San Francisco Bay and the south Delta, where powerful state and federal water export pumps divert water to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

Water officials argue that blocking those channels at key times could prevent threatened Delta smelt from being sucked to their deaths in the pumps. This might allow water diversions to continue even when smelt migrate into the central Delta in winter. Pumping is often reduced now to protect fish, contributing to statewide water shortages.

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