By: Alex Breitler, Record

Is 15 years long enough to open minds?

Once more, San Joaquin County and a major urban water supplier are discussing a plan to put the Mokelumne River’s precious flow to better use.

In wet years, the East Bay Municipal Utility District would send river flows to farmland somewhere in the east county, where the water would percolate into the ground to revive depleted aquifers.

Then, in dry years, the utility could take some of that water back and send it to 1.3 million customers in the Bay Area.

It’s that last part that caused so much fuss in 1998, when a formal proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by local interests.

Folks in San Joaquin County don’t like the idea of shipping any more water to big cities.

Sharing water
How a plan to share groundwater with the East Bay Municipal Utility District might work:
• In wet years, East Bay MUD's aqueduct from Pardee Reservoir would deliver Mokelumne River water into a pipeline feeding local farms. Water would percolate into the ground or be injected into wells.
• In dry years, East Bay MUD could pump some of that stored groundwater back up and into its aqueduct for delivery to the Bay Area.
• The benefit for San Joaquin County would be bolstering its sagging groundwater levels. The benefit to East Bay MUD would be a more reliable supply of water for 1.3 million Bay Area residents during droughts.
• The location of the groundwater bank would depend on agreements with willing landowners.
• If a small pilot project is successful, the concept could be expanded. More details are expected in about one year.

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