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Swift progress on California's drought barrier

An emergency drought barrier in California is set to be completed two weeks ahead of schedule.

State body the Department of Water Resources said the 230m-wide barrier within West False River in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was almost finished.

The project is designed to stop saltwater contaminating water supplies in California, which declared a drought emergency in 2014 and is facing another summer of water shortages.

The trapezoidal barrier is 36m wide at its base and 3.6m wide above the waterline.

About 150,000 tons of rocks have been dropped from barges and cranes into the river channel to create the barrier.

The project is expected to cost about $22M (£14.5M). The barrier is planned to be removed by mid-November before fish migrate, with this further phase of work due to cost a further $15M.

Storage in all California’s major reservoirs was far below historical averages in late May. Shasta Lake, the state’s largest, was at 62% of the average, Lake Oroville 53%  and New Melones just 30%. 

Almost 2,000 wells across the state are critical or dry, and more than 1,400 wildfires have been reported this year.

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