Local, state and federal officials gathered Friday to mark the completion of a $10 million project to pipe recycled water from the nearby Sonoma Valley sewage treatment plant to help the restoration of a former salt production plant between Sonoma and Napa.

"Without this pipeline, I'm not sure the department would ever have been able to restore this, or it would have taken decades to do," said Greg Martinelli, wildlife program manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, which owns the site, now known as the Napa-Sonoma Salt Marsh.

Completion of the pipeline opens the way for a $15 million project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore several ponds at the former plant, including one that was used to dispose of the highly concentrated by-product from salt production, known as bittern.

The recycled water will be used to dilute the bittern to a level that can be discharged safely into the San Pablo Bay, a project that will take eight to 10 years. The bay-side ponds will provide tidal habitat for birds, fish, and other creatures.

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