A leak Wednesday forced state water officials to shut down the California Aqueduct, the canal that delivers water from Northern California to tens of millions of residents and farms in Southern California.
Water officials first discovered the leak on January 2 near Taft, a community just southwest of Bakersfield, according to the Associated Press. Ted Thomas, a representative for the Department of Water Resources, told the AP that water had begun leaking at a rate of up to 3 cubic feet per second, but that officials had since diverted the leak back into the canal to avoid further loss of water.
Thomas described the leak as minor, and said water deliveries to the Southland were unlikely to be interrupted.
“Southern California won’t even notice,” Thomas told the AP.
Officials have not yet determined the cause of the leak, but have ruled out subsidence as a factor. Subsidence, or sinking land, occurs when water stored in deep groundwater wells is depleted faster than it can be naturally recharged.
Armando Acuna, spokesman for the Metropolitan Water District, told the AP that while the leak was unplanned, it could not have happened at a better time.
“The best time to do it–if you have to have a shutdown–is in the winter months,” he told the AP. “Demand is lowest at that time as compared to having to do this in July.”
Thomas said repairs on the Aqueduct would be completed no later than February 20.
Meanwhile, the Department of Water Resources has asked local fishermen to temporarily halt fishing in the “Pool 30” area of the Aqueduct near Taft. Officials say fishing in the area could be dangerous due to ongoing construction.