Urban Fold

Re-Engineering California's Water Supplies

In California, some worry that the state's aging delta levees are in extreme danger of being destroyed by earthquakes. And as environmental concerns rise, the state is considering plans to re-engineer its water supplies to prevent another "Katrina".

Miller-McCune takes an in-depth look at the water crisis and environmental issues facing the state.

"Politicians, the policy advisers who brief the politicians, the academics who provide the research that informs the advisers, and nearly everyone else in a position to know will tell you that the levees are in a perilous state. They all agree there's a danger of catastrophic flooding after an earthquake, and everyone knows such a quake will strike eventually: Geoscientists say there's a 63 percent chance of a 6.7-or-greater earthquake along the Hayward fault, 40 miles west of the Delta, by 2036; there are at least six other faults that lie even closer. It's not just earthquakes, either: Rainstorms, sea level rise, tree root malformations, even beavers - a 2004 breach that took six months and $90 million to mitigate is believed to have been caused by a beaver - can cause a levee to fail.

Allies as unlikely as Southern California water districts and some Northern California environmentalists have agreed on a potential solution: massive, multibillion-dollar infrastructure - a canal or a tunnel or both - to convey much of the water feeding the Delta around it, instead of through it, and then to farms and cities to the south and west."

Full Story: California’s Delta Water Blues

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