Two of the barriers would be aimed at reducing freshwater outflows from the Sacramento River, allowing it to better hold back sediment that would creep in from San Francisco Bay as river flows dwindle because of the drought.
The goal of the other barrier would be to keep salinity from seeping into the central Delta.
The Sacramento Bee reports () that the California Department of Water Resources is scrambling to obtain permits for the project, which could cost as much as $40 million. The goal is to place the barriers as soon as May 1.
But the plan is drawing criticism from farmers who draw irrigation water from the channels that would be dammed.
The drought intensified over the last week in the Western U.S. as the region swelters under a heatwave and firefighters battle major wildfires.
Dangerous fire weather conditions has prompted one federal agency to impose fire restrictions on public lands in northern California.
Mandatory statewide water conservation rules have ended in California. But Sacramento-area users conserved 22 percent in June, compared to June 2013.
California and federal agencies say a new strategy is needed to save the endangered Delta smelt.
California is in the fifth consecutive year of drought, but state water managers ended mandatory conservation rules. Local water suppliers now determine conservation rates, and some have low or no targets. A water expert says that's 'shortsighted.'