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Current and Long-Term Effects of Delta Water Quality on Drinking Water Treatment Costs from Disinfection Byproduct Formation

Published Article
San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science
San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science
Center for Watershed Sciences John Muir Institute of the Environment


Sea level rise and the failure of subsided western islands are likely future conditions for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This study explores the current and long-term effects of changes in the Delta\textquoterights water quality on drinking treatment costs for alternative disinfection and additional disinfection byproduct (DBP) precursor removal. Current and likely future Delta water qualities were investigated for electrical conductivity and the concentrations of bromide, and organic carbon. With roughly 1.5 million acre-feet (af) per year of Delta water used for urban water supplies, the drinking water treatment cost differences of taking water from the south Delta and the Sacramento River upstream could amount to $30 to $90 million per year currently, and could rise to $200 to $1000 million per year in the future, with lower water quality and urban use of Delta waters rising to 2 million af annually. From these results, waters drawn directly from the Delta will likely become more difficult and expensive to treat, making the Delta less desirable as a conventional water source.

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