The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is moving ahead with a plan to buy four islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta -- a purchase that would secure crucial property rights at the key nexus of the state's water distribution system.
The MWD board voted 28-3 on Tuesday to authorize a purchase option for just over 20,000 acres on four islands east of Antioch in eastern Contra Costa and western San Joaquin counties -- Webb Tract, Holland Tract, Bouldin Island and Bacon Island. The one-year option, which allows the district to assess the properties, would also include 240 acres on Chipps Island, on Suisun Bay in Solano County.
The proposed purchase has drawn criticism from environmentalist groups that oppose a state plan to revamp the way water flows through the Delta by building a pair of massive tunnels through the area. Critics have characterized the proposed purchase as part of the district's strategy to make it easier for the state to build the tunnel project.
MWD General Manager Jeff Kightlinger said after Tuesday's vote that part of the property may indeed play a role in the tunnel plan -- known formally as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan by government agencies and now being promoted as the California Water Fix by a coalition of state agencies and water interests, including the MWD.