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Southern California’s Water Supply at Risk

As Californians, we are aware of the potential impact of an earthquake on our community. We prepare kits to aid us in the event of an earthquake that include food and bottled water, however, the earthquake kit that we desperately need is one that protects California’s water supply. From a recent article in the Orange County Register, the California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey warn that if an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 or greater strikes northern California, vital water supplies to southern California could be eliminated for a year or longer.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is at the center of this issue. The network of rivers, streams, marshes and grasslands is more than a place for fishing and boating, it is the route for much of the state’s water supply. The delta channels water that is delivered to approximately 25 million people, businesses and farms throughout northern, central and southern California. The delta islands act as levees and hold back the salty seawater from the San Francisco Bay. The levees, built in the mid-19th century, are poorly engineered and weakened from farming and erosion and are likeldelta 300x300 Southern California’s Water Supply at Risky to collapse in the event of a 6.0 or greater earthquake.

The collapse of the levees would cause the salty seawater from the San Francisco Bay to rush into the delta, turning the freshwater into undrinkable saltwater. The pumping of freshwater to other areas of the state, including southern California, would be suspended for at least a year to repair the 100-year old infrastructure. If an earthquake strikes when the state is in a drought, the water supply would be discontinued for even longer.  The results would be catastrophic, according to the Natural Resources Agency, as 31 percent  of southern California’s water comes from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

California’s strongest economy, agriculture, would also be jeopardized. Water from the Colorado River, another source of imported water for southern California, would need to be diverted away from farm irrigation to meet the domestic demands in urban areas. Not only would the seismic event result in losses in water supplies, but farm production and jobs would be lost as well, equating to a $40 billion economic impact of failed levees.

As plans are considered to modernize the current levee system, ensure a reliable long-term water supply for California and a healthy delta ecosystem, it is our turn to protect the water supplies that we currently have. We must conserve the water supplies that we have available to us now to prepare for possible future events. The City of Corona Department of Water and Power is here to help you conserve and become more water efficient. Please call our Water Resources team at 951-736-2234 or e-mail us at for more information on how you can conserve our valuable water supplies.

For more information, please visit:

Orange County Register:

Sylvester, R. (2013, September 8). Danger from the Delta. Orange County Register. pp. 1, 4, 6.,-a-700-mile-journey/

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