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Southern California Water District's Island Buys May Be Related To Delta Tunnels Project

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — In a controversial move, a piece of San Joaquin Valley may end up belonging to Southern California as part of the Delta tunnels project.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted to buy five islands that could potentially influence the state's water supply.

The district says it wants to buy Bouldin Island, Bacon Island, Webb Tract most of Holland Tract and the western tip of Chipps Island to preserve quality water.

"Our basic interest is reliable water supply. So that has to do with environment, making sure that we have a healthy environment and the delta has healthy fisheries, so that reliable water supplies continue to flow through the delta," said spokesman Steve Arakawa.

But the Stockton advocacy group Restore the Delta isn't buying it.

"That their intent is to use the islands for construction and for staging construction for the Delta tunnels. Two of those islands are in the direct path of those tunnels," said spokeswoman Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla.

We asked the water district if that purchase was part of a strategy in securing the Delta tunnels.

"Certainly if CalWater Fix, if it were to go forward, would have value in that area. It crosses right through that area. So we told the board there's multiple interests," Arakawa said.

The deal isn't done yet, and Restore the Delta is already preparing the petitions. The group thinks it may find allies with board members in the Southern California district who opposed buying the islands.

"Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Monica, voted against the purchase. We're going to urge their board to reconsider. Especially since CalWater Fix's website made it clear, it really doesn't produce additional water," Barrigan-Parrilla said.

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