Doug Obegi lays out an interesting argument about the implications of drought for the “Bay Delta Conservation Plan”, the California plan to build great water-carrying tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for farms and cities to the south.
On paper, the tunnels would be largely dry during drought years, to preserve salinity balance in the delta, including for those who get their water there. But the tunnels would make it physically possible, Obegi argues, to just suck up the entire Sacramento River in a dry year like this, if Californians were willing to write off the delta, removing the fresh water flow that keeps sea water at bay. It thus becomes a political question, and there is some precedent for the politics of water allowing the saltwater to intrude, he argues:
While the biological science shows how important delta outflow and other environmental protections are for the continued existence of native fish, wildlife and the people who make their homes and living on these natural resources, the political science in favor of increasing diversions and waiving these standards has often trumped the biological science.