The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted to negotiate options to purchase 20,000 acres on five islands in the hub of California’s water system, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. MWD, along with three Kern County water agencies, would purchase the properties from Delta Wetland Properties.
MWD General Manager Jeff Kightlinger says the agencies want a more stable water supply.
“We know our long-term water supply reliability is going to be based on getting Delta species, particularly fish, in a better place than they are today. So we’re looking at way to do that," says Kightlinger. "We believe the best approach to do that is by restoration of habitat."
But critics say the purchase is about forging ahead with the proposed Delta tunnels project.
“If they really cared about Delta fisheries and the Delta as a region they would have put their money into properly screening the pumps at Tracy 20 years ago as they had been asked to do," says Barbara-Barrigan Parilla with Restore the Delta.
The price hasn’t been negotiated but could be around $200 million. The islands include Bacon, Bouldin, Holland Tract, Webb Tract, and Chipps. MWD wants to try to close a deal to get an option on a one-year purchase of the islands in the next few weeks.