Southern California Water Agency One Step Closer to Buying Islands in Delta

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The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is one step closer to purchasing several islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Tuesday, the board for that agency voted to move forward with plans to buy options on the islands, which could pave the way for it to own water rights.

Some living near the delta in Terminous, which is in San Joaquin County, fear what this means for their way of life.

"Some have said the next civil war in this country is going to be over water, well guess what, they might just start one here," said Dell White, who has housed his boat at the Terminous marina for 40 years. "We're going to have salt water clear up here, because of the flows, I mean, it's going to ruin this delta, it's going to ruin fishing. You know they don't care about anything but the water."

The purchase would include Bouldin Island, which Highway 12 crosses just west of Terminous, Bacon Island, Webb Tract, as well as most of Holland Island and part of Chipps Island. Two of those islands, Webb and Bacon, also sit along a tunnel route proposed by Governor Jerry Brown.

"I know most of the residents here don't want them to buy those islands," said Marty Martin, who sometimes stays at the Terminous marina.

"It's just giving LA a little more foothold in this area, which we're not happy about," said Nancy Swanson who lives in Terminous.

While many of White's neighbors hate the idea, a spokesperson for the SoCal water agency told FOX40 it has made no final decision, and it would take at least another year before the sale of the islands would go through.

The spokesperson also said in wet years, billions of gallons of water could be stored and shipped south in case of a water emergency down south, such as an earthquake damaging the aqueduct.

But White and others feel there's better options for those in the southern part of the state.

"They can buy a desalinization plant cheaper, have drinkable water that they can have rather than having this," White said.

Many delta residents hope at some point their voices will be heard on the issue.

"They need to get some legislation to get it stopped," Martin said.

"How come they don't put it up for a vote? I guarantee it if they put it up for a vote they'll lose it, but they won't do it," White said.

An exact price for the islands is still being negotiated, according to the Metro Water District spokesperson. The total amount of land involved is more than 20,000 acres.

FOX40 reached out to Restore the Delta, an organization dedicated to minimizing environment damage to the area, but no response was given in time for our story.