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Protecting our water

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Posted: Friday, May 28, 2004 10:00 pm

Through the years, we’ve heard various theories about the salt that’s showing up in wells south and west of Lodi.

It’s rising from ancient marine layers, said some.

It’s leaching in from the Delta, claimed others. At last, some federal scientists are going to get the answers. A U.S. Geological Survey team is moving to drill and test in San Joaquin County to find out, simply, where the salt is coming from.

It’s no trivial pursuit. The invasion of salty water makes freshwater wells unusable. And the county depends quite heavily on groundwater for its homes, businesses and farms. If we can pinpoint the source or sources of this contamination, we can take stronger steps to stop it.

More encouraging water news: The Sacramento City Council recently took a vote that’s crucial to the progress of the so-called Freeport Project to pipe Sacramento River water to San Joaquin County. Over the grumbles of some Sacramento residents, the council agreed to sell riverfront property to the Freeport Regional Water Authority.

Most of that water is earmarked for Sacramento and the East Bay, but there is a fair chance that San Joaquin County might dip a bucket in the stream if we can get our political and economic ducks in a row.

Finally, we’re encouraged by the idea of a water forum to bring together disparate interests along the Mokelumne River. It’s the suggestion of Gerald Schwartz, the savvy Central Valley liaison for the East Bay Municipal Utilities District.

With the Freeport project moving ahead and recharge ventures gaining attention, it’s a good time to sit down and pull together.

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