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Why the Future of the Delta Tunnels Project Could Be Determined In 2016

On the edge of the Central Valley is the center of California’s water system: the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, where the state’s two largest rivers meet.

A plan to restore the Delta by channeling water down south has long been a priority for Governor Jerry Brown’s administration. Despite its various names and strategies, the project has been riddled with controversy since Brown first assumed office in the late ’70s.

California Almonds, Partly Blamed For Water Shortage, Now Dropping In Price

They were blamed for planting too many trees, using too much water and worsening the effects of California’s epic drought. The state’s almond farmers responded by expanding their orchards in a bold wager that the sky-high prices the world was paying for almonds justified both the water use and long-term investment.

Now those farmers are dealing with a steep drop in prices – and wondering if the great almond boom that transformed Central Valley agriculture is starting to fizzle. Almond prices in California have dropped significantly in the past few months. A farmer who could sell a pound of almonds for nearly $5 last summer is now getting as little as $3.10.

Drought-Depleted Folsom Lake Is Rising, but It’s Still Far From Its Level-Best

Hopping from one rock to another, Sue Ann Arens led her two boxers one recent afternoon up and down the uneven slopes of Folsom Lake, which years of drought have stripped bare. Their daily walks along Sacramento’s backyard reservoir had become a hike through the lake bed.

Well-worn trails threaded through clusters of brush in areas usually covered by water.By the next afternoon, Arens had to change course. A morning storm had submerged part of her trail. In the distance, water rippled over an island that had surfaced last year when the lake hit bottom.


More Water Storage Capacity Is a Must

We are all hoping the current El Niño will bring an end to the drought. Whether or not we’ll continue to receive normal or above-normal precipitation is still a question, though an end to the drought may be unlikely this year. Whatever the outcome this year, future droughts are certain.

In 2014, California’s voters passed Proposition 1, a $7.12 billion water bond. While the bond contained $2.7 billion earmarked for water storage projects including dams and reservoirs, few if any such projects are currently underway.