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Salinity: A Common Operating Picture
Salinity is simply a measure of the amount of salts dissolved in water. An estuary usually exhibits a gradual change in salinity throughout its’ length as fresh water entering the estuary from tributaries mixes with seawater moving in from the ocean. In the State of California, fresh water is released from Sierra Nevada reservoirs to repel salt water intrusion from ocean tides into areas of the Sacramento- San Joaquin Bay Delta. This delicate balance is managed by water operations to provide suitable habitat for species, irrigation water for farmland and fresh water for water suppliers. In normal or wet years, water repels the salt field, but in extremely dry years, management challenges increase when trying to find a balance to support all water needs.