Delta News

Southern California water agency completes Delta islands purchase

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has completed its purchase of five islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, including Chipps Island.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has completed its purchase of five islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, including Chipps Island. Sacramento Bee file

A portion of the Delta is now owned by a powerful water agency from Los Angeles.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California said Monday that it has completed its purchase of five islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a $175-million deal that has aroused suspicion about a “water grab.”

Metropolitan announced the completion of the purchase in a two-paragraph memo to board members from the agency’s general counsel. The deal was finalized three days after the state Supreme Court turned aside legal efforts by San Joaquin County officials and others to block the acquisition. The court’s decision made Monday’s announcement something of a formality.

Metropolitan bought the islands from a Swiss insurance conglomerate that wanted to use them as reservoirs for marketing water to areas south of the Delta.

Officials with Metropolitan have insisted they’re abandoning the insurer’s proposal, but could use the islands to help facilitate Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build tunnels beneath the Delta – a $15.5 billion project that might be even more controversial. Metropolitan could use some of the islands to store construction materials.

Dale Kasler: 916-321-1066, @dakasler

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