Drought prompts officials to release fresh water in Delta

The Antioch Marina is normally the location where the salt water from the ocean meets the fresh water from the Sierra, but this year that line is pushed much farther east and the Contra Costa Water District says that has far reaching implications.

Recent testing by the Contra Costa Water District at its four intake sites in the Delta reveals the salinity levels are much higher than they would normally be for this time of year.

"In some cases, we're seeing salinity levels at about three to five times what we would normally be seeing for this time of year," Contra Costa Water District spokesperson Jennifer Allen said.

Normally, the water coming into the facility near Discovery Bay would be relatively fresh thanks to an influx of rainwater and outflows from the snowmelt in the Sierra to the north, but not this year. That means in order to keep the water quality high, Contra Costa Waters has had to release water from storage at Los Vaqueros Reservoir much sooner than they'd like.

"The expanded reservoir is definitely providing some benefits to us this year with more supplies available for blending, however it does not make us immune from drought conditions," Allen said.

With little or no rain on the horizon the Contra Costa Water District is looking at a drought management strategy that may include a call for greater conservation.

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