By Elizabeth Zach, staff writerSCDelta

Southern California’s largest drinking water supplier intends to buy four farming islands in the San Joaquin River Delta to lay claim to the area’s water.

If the deal proceeds as planned, it would be the first time the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) acquires land in the Delta but critics say it could set a precedent. Restore the Delta, an environmental group, compared this deal to what happened in the last century when Los Angeles bought land around the Owens River to divert water from it to the metropolis.

The MWD, however, says the property only provides access to about 10,000 acre feet of water per year. District officials say, too, that restoration projects on the islands could offset environmental impacts of future water works.

The islands, moreover, lie where Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed digging two giant tunnels that would deliver water from northern to southern California. MWD is a strong supporter of that project.

Conservationists oppose the project but proponents say it would ease future water supplies as California struggles through its fourth year of drought.
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