On rich Delta farmland just outside Tracy, Suzanne Womack spent her childhood on more than 600 acres dating back to 1961.
“I moved there when I was 3 years old," said Womack. "I learned to ride horses there.”
Now, for years, her attention has turned to preserving her land against what she calls poor maintenance by the state linked to the massive Clifton Court Forebay fed by the Delta’s Old River, right next door.
“When they built the Clifton Court Forebay, they didn’t put in a cutoff wall for the water not to seep through, so we’ve had seepage from the Forebay for 50 years," says Womack.
The Forebay is essentially a two-mile wide reservoir for the State Water Project.
It’s ground zero for the starting point for the California Aqueduct.
And now, the state Department of Water Resources is dealing with an even bigger issue beneath.
“We’re going to be repairing some erosion that has occurred underneath a spillway, or a pad, or an apron, that water flows across as it enters the Forebay," says DWR spokesperson Doug Carlson.
The DWR says what's to blame is the massive amount of water entering the Forebay from the historic storms and in turn an extraordinary amount of pumping.
“And that’s why we had a high flow rate of water going into the Clifton Court Forebay through that radial gate process and that’s where the erosion has occurred," says Carlson.
So what does this all mean?
Water normally pumped south to farmers and to millions who rely on drinking water won’t get it from here.
Instead, it will come from the San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos.
Officials say this will not interrupt any deliveries to our customers of the State Water Project. The plan now is to pump concrete under water to set and repair erosion in the reservoir spillway.
The fix should be done in 30 to 45 days.
But for Suzanne Womack, the fix is a continuous problem when it comes to seepage and the enormous cost to pump water from her land.
“We have been neighbors with state since the mid-60’s and they have never given us a dime in maintenance," Womack said.
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