At a closed session board meeting Wednesday morning, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California authorized the purchase of four islands in the San Francisco Bay-Delta for an undisclosed sum.
The deal is highly controversial in Northern California as it would put Southern California’s most powerful water agency in control of a group of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta islands that can serve as water storage areas or entry points for the proposed $15 billion Delta Tunnels projects.
For months MWD has been considering the purchase of islands now used for farming. The islands mirror the path of the plan for the Delta Tunnels proposal.
The four island deal includes Bouldin Island, Webb Tract, Holland Tract, and Bacon Island. They cover approximately 20,000 acres of the Delta. Here (and above) is a map of the islands in the path of the Delta Tunnels.
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta spoke on the matter.
“It is troubling for the Delta region that Metropolitan Water District is going to acquire such a significant portion of Delta land and Delta water rights,” she said. “They have the resources to change law and policies statewide to maximize their access to Delta water in their favor. They will own two islands that are directly in the path of the proposed Delta Tunnels project, eliminating eminent domain concerns for that portion of tunnels construction. We believe that having MWD as a neighbor is an existential threat to the future of the Delta and Delta communities.”
Delta Tunnels opponents note that after nine years and a quarter of a billion dollars spent on the proposal, Delta Tunnel backers have still has not produced a legally acceptable plan that can pass environmental standards. On October 30, 2015 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the Draft Environmental Impact Report a failing grade of “Inadequate” due to lack of science about the impacts on the Delta ecosystem and endangered species.
For more information on the Restore the Delta visit www.restorethedelta.org.