Archive for the ‘Water’ Category

Delta Conveyance aka tunnel Project Community Benefits Program Workshop 1 of 3 April 14

Monday, April 12th, 2021

Opportunity for neighboring community members to offer input of what they want from the impacts of the project

If you live or work in the Delta, we’d like to invite you to join an online workshop to provide feedback to the Department of Water Resources about the Community Benefits Program of the Delta Conveyance (tunnel) Project. On April 14, between 6:00 and 8:00 pm, Ag Innovations will facilitate a large online workshop to gather feedback from Delta residents on the Department of Water Resources (DWR), Community Benefits program.

To Register for the April 14 Workshop email DeltaConveyanceCBP@water.ca.gov
Click Here for more information.

However, as of Monday, April 12, the day the Herald received the notification of the meeting on the 14th, registrations are closed. If you would still like to participate, please email us at DeltaConveyanceCBP@water.ca.gov. If you cannot participate in the workshop, but would like to provide input, please email us at DeltaConveyanceCBP@water.ca.gov. A recording of each workshop will be posted, along with the background material, at https://water.ca.gov/Programs/State-Water-Project/Delta-Conveyance/Community-Benefits-Program

About the workshop: DWR is developing a community benefits program to acknowledge that if the Delta Conveyance project is approved it could have potential adverse effects on communities through construction of major capital projects. The Community Benefits program could create economic, social, and other benefits in the local community. A Community Benefits Program could go beyond what traditional “environmental mitigation” typically affords.

Why participate: While people oppose the Delta Conveyance Project, DWR has no expectation that participating in the workshops signals any support for the Delta Conveyance Project. The community benefits program would only proceed if the project were approved. But participating now provides community members a chance to shape the program to best suit the needs of the local community.

Ag Innovations is a 501c3 nonprofit and is committed to reaching out to underrepresented voices and creating meaningful opportunities to provide input, including at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic makes this challenging.  Please let us know if you have ideas for how we might work with you to bring your input into this process.

Stay tuned for additional workshops on the Community Benefits Program future workshops will be on:

Thursday, May 6, 2021 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm.

CLICK HERE to REGISTER

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm.

CLICK HERE to REGISTER

From Scoping Summary Report.

What is the Delta Conveyance Project?

The state is studying the potential impacts and benefits of two possible routes for a tunnel in the Delta, labeled the Delta Conveyance Project. The proposal aims to protect the reliability of the State Water Project to deliver clean water to homes, farms, and businesses in the Bay Area, Central Coast, and Southern California.

The project would catch fresh water in the northern Delta – especially during storms – through two new intakes near the town of Hood. A deep underground tunnel would carry that water 40 miles to the southern Delta where it would be pumped into the State Water Project. The project would be constructed over approximately 16 years.

DWR is currently studying potential impacts on traffic, noise, air quality, and historical, cultural, recreational, and other resources.

They have launched the Environmental Justice Community Survey to better understand how the project may affect the resources, values, and priorities that are most important you.

(See related articles here and here)

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Antioch’s Fulton Shipyard Road boat launch to close March 15 through Summer 2023

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

Fulton Shipyard Road boat launch area and location of The Red Caboose restaurant nearby. Source: Google maps

For construction of brackish water desalination plant; could impact business for The Red Caboose restaurant nearby; boaters will have free access to launch at Antioch Marina during construction period

The Red Caboose restaurant. Photo from their Facebook page.

By Allen Payton

Today, Wednesday, March 9, 2021, the City of Antioch has announced that the boat launch located at 225 Fulton Shipyard Road will be closed beginning next Monday, March 15, with an anticipated re-opening in the summer of 2023. The closure is a result of construction related to the City of Antioch’s brackish water desalination plant. (See related articles, here and here)

John and Judy Pence, owners of The Red Caboose restaurant, nearby, are concerned about possible impacts to their business.

“You’d think they’d notify the only businesses nearby,” Judy Pence said when reached for comment. “If they’re going to have the road closed, obviously we can’t have that. We get some business from the boat launch ramp, but not a lot because they took out all the docks. So, there’s nothing for boaters to tie up to.”

“We’re going to have an issue, because that’s been overflow parking for us, if they close the parking lot,” she continued. “So, we’ll be very concerned if that happens.”

Questions were sent to City Manager Ron Bernal, Economic Development Director Kwame Reed and Public Works Director John Samuelson asking if all of the nearby property and business owners were notified about the boat launch closure and if there are any plans to help the restaurant offset any negative impacts that it might cause.

“I spoke with Judy Pence, just now,” Samuelson responded. “She was supposed to be notified but that didn’t happen. So, I apologized to her for that.”

“I explained to her that we won’t be closing the street during construction, so traffic to the restaurant won’t be blocked,” he continued. “Hopefully, this could be good for their business, as our contractor and workers can eat there for lunch.”

“We’ll be using Roger’s Point as the staging area,” Samuelson added.

Free Launching at Marina Location

Anyone seeking access to a boat launch will have access to the Antioch Marina Boat Launch located at the end of L Street. It will be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at no cost during the construction period. Additionally, Antioch residency is not required for use of the Antioch Marina Boat Launch.

About the City of Antioch Brackish Water Project

At a price of $110 million, the Brackish Water Desalination Plant was made possible with $93 million in funding from the State, and $17 million from the City of Antioch.

This is a resiliency project that will mitigate the impacts of upstream freshwater diversion, prepare for future freshwater diversion, once the Delta conveyance project/tunnel is completed beneath the Delta to send the water south, and will accomplish drought reliability improvements. Once completed, Antioch will be firmly positioned to preserve its pre-1914 water rights and provide the city with a reliable source of drinking water for generations. For more information: http://www.antiochbrackishdesal.com/ 

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

City of Antioch PIO Rolando Bonilla contributed to this report.

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City of Antioch breaks ground on historic, first desalination project in Delta 

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

Antioch City Council members and staff gather for the groundbreaking of the new Brackish Water Desalination Plant next to the Antioch Water Treatment Plant on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. Photo: City of Antioch

$110 million Brackish Water Desalination plant made possible by State and City partnership 

By Rolando Bonilla, Public Information Officer, City of Antioch

On Friday, Feb. 19, Antioch City Councilmembers and staff, along with state dignitaries, broke ground on the city’s new and historic Brackish Water Desalination Plant. At a price of $110 million, the project was made possible with $93 million in funding from the State, and $17 million from the City of Antioch.

It will be the first one in the entire California Delta and second in the Bay Area, in addition to the brackish water desalination plant built in Newark by the Alameda County Water District in 2003.

“Through this project, Antioch continues establishing itself as both a state and regional leader on environmental best practices,” said Mayor Lamar Thorpe. “I would like to thank Governor Newsom for California’s investment in making our Brackish Water Desalination Plant a reality. By working together, we exemplify the very best of our state and our city.”

It is a resiliency project that will mitigate the impacts of reduced fresh water flow and accomplish drought reliability improvements.  The use and redirection of fresh water upstream has reduced the pressure on and caused intrusion of saltwater from the ocean. Antioch’s intake pumps, located at the end of Fulton Shipyard Road, are at the lowest point on the river. The situation will only worsen should the Delta Conveyance project (tunnel) be built and redirect more fresh water from north of the Delta, south, near the Clifton Court Forebay. (See related articles here and here)

Once completed, Antioch will be firmly positioned to preserve its pre-1914 water rights and provide the City with a reliable source of drinking water for generations.

“Water is the most precious of resources,” said City Manager Ron Bernal. “This is not only important for Antioch but also others who can become part of this project in the future.”

The City could sell some of the water from the plant to industrial users and other agencies.

The Antioch Brackish Water Desalination Project will utilize existing infrastructure to the extent possible and construct new desalination facilities and associated infrastructure to improve the city’s water supply reliability and operational flexibility. Once constructed, the desalination facility, located at the existing water treatment plant at 401 Putnam Street, will provide for 6 million gallons per day (mgd) of capacity (producing up to 5,500-acre feet per year (ac-ft/yr).

The Antioch Brackish Water Desalination Project consists of the following components:

  •  New river intake pump station to replace the existing San Joaquin River intake pump station. The pump station will consist of three 8 mgd pumps (16 mgd firm capacity), each with a fish screen that meets the protective criteria of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Service.
  •  New 3,000-foot pipeline connecting the City’s existing raw water pipeline to the City’s Water Treatment Plant to allow a direct connection and maximize the use of existing infrastructure
  •  New 6 mgd desalination facility (reverse osmosis, post-treatment systems, chemical feed and storage facilities, brine conveyance facilities, and other associated non-process facilities).
  •  Approximately 4.3 miles of a new brine disposal pipeline to convey discharge brine to the Delta Diablo Wastewater Treatment Plant for disposal into the San Joaquin River through an existing outfall. Discharge of brine water into the San Joaquin River will result in minor local increases in salinities that are within the tolerance range of native species.

Antioch is located along the San Joaquin River where it meets and mixes with the Sacramento River at the entrance to the Delta in Northern California, just off of Highway 4 in Contra Costa County.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch City Council approves contract for Brackish Water Desalination Plant, rejects bid protest

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

Map of current and proposed pipelines for the Brackish Water Desalination Project in Antioch. Source: City of Antioch

By Anthony Dorado

The Antioch City Council convened for a special meeting on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 to vote on whether or not to approve the agreement with Shimmick Construction Co. and reject the bid protest from Overaa Construction Co. The council unanimously voted to approve the contract and resulting budget changes.

The city council voted to increase the total budget for the Brackish Water Desalination Plant to $110,000,000. The contract with Shimmick would amount to $91,023,450, which includes $86,689,000 for the base, plus a five percent contingency of $4,334,450. The 29-year-old company has experience in building 49 water resource projects ranging in budget from $2.7 million to $1.2 billion, ranking as one of the top companies in the U.S. for water and wastewater treatment, and dam construction.

Councilmember Lori Ogorchock expressed her own concerns and those of residents that the plant will result in tangible rate hikes. City Manager Ron Bernal ensured the council that this would not result in any rate hikes. He also stated that this would not cause any unforeseen costs in the future.

Funding for the project includes a Cal Department of Water Resources Desalination Grant of $10 million, a State Water Resources Control Board Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund award of $56 million, California Department of Water Resources Settlement Agreement funds in the amount of $27 million, and City of Antioch Water Enterprise Funds of $17 million. Bernal expressed pride in the project explaining how it will stabilize water rates and allow the city a greater consistency of water intake year-round, regardless of rising salinity levels.

Mayor Thorpe expressed hope that this project would prepare the City of Antioch to meet the coming challenges of climate change. However, the main problem is the saltwater intrusion into the Delta due to the movement of fresh water south, since Antioch’s intake is at the lowest elevation in the Delta. That will worsen with the construction of the Delta bypass tunnel, known as the Delta conveyance. (See related articles, here and here.)

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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New name. Same game: now labeled Delta Conveyance Project, the bypass tunnel diverting water south moves forward – Part 1 of 2

Friday, July 10th, 2020

Proposed Delta Conveyance Project Facility Corridor Options. From Scoping Summary Report.

This week’s DCP Environmental Planning Update includes:

  • Adoption of a Mitigated Negative Declaration and Approval of Soil Collection Activities
  • Announcement of Federal Environmental Review

Delta Conveyance Project Scoping Summary Report Now Available

By Allen Payton

Photo by Department of Water Resources.

What was planned as two tunnels beneath the California Delta to divert fresh water from north of the Delta to areas south including as far away as the Municipal Water District serving Los Angeles, is now a single tunnel plan that is referred to as the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). The state previously referred to the two tunnel project as the WaterFix.

Although the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) rescinded all approvals of the WaterFix twin tunnel project last year, the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority continues engineering and geotechnical work on the single tunnel project under DWR’s supervision.

On May 2, 2019 the DWR announced it was taking formal steps to withdraw proposed permits for the WaterFix project and began a renewed environmental review and planning process for a smaller, single tunnel project that will protect a critical source of water supplies for California. Those actions implement Governor Gavin Newsom’s direction earlier in 2019, to modernize the state’s water delivery infrastructure by pursuing a smaller, single tunnel project through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The project will be designed to protect water supply reliability while limiting impacts on local Delta communities and fish. The actions also follow the governor’s executive order directing state agencies to develop a comprehensive statewide strategy to build a climate-resilient water system.

The purpose of the new DCP is “to develop new diversion and conveyance facilities in the Delta necessary to restore and protect the reliability of State Water Project (SWP) deliveries and, potentially, Central Valley Project (CVP) water deliveries south of the Delta, consistent with the State’s Water Resilience Portfolio [WRP].”

California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot describes it as “A smaller project, coordinated with a wide variety of actions to strengthen existing levee protections, protect Delta water quality, recharge depleted groundwater reserves, and strengthen local water supplies across the state” that “will build California’s water supply resilience.”

The tunnel will be drilled 150 feet underground.

No Participation by Contra Costa Water Agencies

So, the effort to move fresh Delta water south, continues. But none of the water agencies in Contra Costa County are part of the DCA. They all either oppose or have chosen to remain neutral on the proposed tunnel in the face of almost complete opposition by county residents.

Instead, Contra Costa County is part of the five-member Delta Counties Coalition, along with Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo Counties all opposing the tunnel project.

However, there are four county residents who are members of the DCA’s Stakeholder Engagement Committee. Learn more about them, their opposition to the project and what they’re doing to limit and ensure the project mitigates any impact on county residents and businesses in Part 2 of this report.

The DCA participating state water contractors include the following agencies:

  • Alameda County Water District (At Large)
  • Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, Zone 7 (At Large)
  • Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency (At Large)
  • Coachella Valley Water District (At Large)
  • Metropolitan Water District of  Southern California (2 Permanent Seats)
  • Mojave Water Agency (At Large)
  • San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (At Large)
  • San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency (At Large)
  • Santa Clara Valley Water District (Permanent Seat)

DCA officers serve two-year terms. The SWC At Large Director and Alternate Director represent all participating State Water Contractors without a permanent Board seat. Directors and Alternate Directors are determined by the participating State Water Contractors. In addition, the Joint Powers Agreement allocates a Board seat to Kern County Water Agency. This seat is currently unfilled as Kern County Water Agency has not joined the DCA

Photo by California Dep’t of Water Resources.

$11 Billion Price Tag Could Quadruple

According to Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, “the $11 billion figure quoted for construction of the Delta Conveyance Project is dated and incomplete. The $11 billion figure is in 2018 dollars. In 2018, Metropolitan Water District claimed inflation for construction should be calculated at 5% interest annually. That puts the project over $12 billion today without all the mitigation measures discussed by the Design Construction Authority in stakeholder meetings with Delta community members. These externalized mitigation costs will be absorbed by taxpayers.

Before bond interest, and with externalized mitigation costs, inflation roughly would put construction costs closer to $20 billion. Bond interest generally speaking would double the cost to $40 billion. And if the state is going to make Delta communities whole and leave the Delta ‘better off’ than it is presently, additional billions of dollars would need to be spent.”

Impact on Antioch

For Antioch, which has pre-1914 rights to water and can take as much from the river as it needs, and has the lowest intake in the entire Delta, the result will be greater saltwater intrusion, as there will be less pressure from the fresh water flowing through the Delta. In response, the City of Antioch has approved the construction of a $60 million desalination plant. (See related article)

Latest Updates & Reports

This week, the DWR issued an update and scoping report on environmental planning for the single tunnel project.

DWR Adopts Mitigated Negative Declaration and Approves Soil Collection Activities

Today, Thursday, July 9, 2020, consistent with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Department of Water Resources (DWR) adopted the Final Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND) for soil investigations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta). As part of the CEQA process, DWR also formally approved the action and adopted a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Plan (MMRP). Soil investigations will include data collection, soil samples and surveys in support of DWR’s efforts to better understand the region’s geology to support the future evaluation of potential activities, including the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. As identified in the Final IS/MND, any potential significant impact will be avoided or otherwise mitigated with implementation of mitigation adopted as part of the project approval process. To access a copy of the Notice of Determination and Final IS/MND, which includes responses to comments and the adopted MMRP, visit the Delta Conveyance Environmental Planning page on DWR’s website.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement Under the National Environmental Policy Act

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has informed DWR that it will conduct federal environmental review of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. USACE, which has regulatory authority over certain actions within specifically defined waters in the United States, will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Later this summer, USACE will issue a Notice of Intent officially announcing the start of preparation of the EIS. USACE’s letter to DWR can be found here.

The tunnel shaft will be drilled 150 feet below ground. From DCA SEC 2019-12-11-Delta Conveyance System Overview

Delta Conveyance Project Scoping Summary Report Now Available

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has published a Scoping Summary Report for the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. This scoping report is a summary of the public scoping period that concluded in April. It includes all public comments received. The information collected during scoping will help inform the ongoing environmental analysis.
The scoping report includes: project overview, the purpose of scoping, a description of scoping activities, meetings, and notifications; a summary of public comments received and copies of all public comments received, including public scoping meeting transcripts.

The purpose of scoping is for DWR to gather feedback from the public and agencies on what to consider when preparing the proposed Delta Conveyance Project Environmental Impact Report. Specifically, DWR was seeking input on the range of project alternatives and potential environmental impacts to study further.

DWR will continue environmental review and analysis of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project, which is intended to maintain reliability of the state’s water system in the decades to come. For more information about the status of the environmental planning work, click here.

Upcoming Meetings

The next meeting of the Delta Conveyance Design & Construction Authority (DCA) Board of Directors will be held next Thursday, July 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I Street in Sacramento (map). For details on watching and participating in the meeting online, click here.

Ways to Stay Informed

To stay informed of plans and progress on the Delta Conveyance Project visit https://water.ca.gov/Programs/State-Water-Project/Delta-Conveyance; Twitter @CA_DWR; email DeltaConveyance@water.ca.gov; or call the Project Hotline at 866.924.9955.

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Antioch to receive $27 million settlement from California’s Department of Water Resources

Thursday, April 9th, 2020

To be used for brackish water desalination plant

By Rolando Bonilla, PIO, City of Antioch

On April 14th, the Antioch City Council will consider the adoption of a resolution approving a historic settlement agreement between the City and California Department of Water Resources (DWR). (See related articles here and here)

The agreement pays Antioch $27 million, which guarantees that they will be able to utilize its 150-year old water rights and remain in the Delta for the long-term.  The $27 million, in addition to $43 million in State grants and loans, completes the financing for the $70 million brackish water desalination plant.

In 1968, the City of Antioch and DWR entered into a settlement agreement in which DWR pays Antioch one-third the cost of supplemental water needed when the Delta became too salty as a result of DWR’s upstream diversions.

“This agreement is a major milestone for Antioch because it will be invested into the construction of the City’s Brackish Water Desalination Project,” said Ron Bernal, City Manager, City of Antioch. “Adoption of this resolution will improve water quality for our residents, improve water reliability for our residents, and stabilize future water cost increases for our residents.” Bernal emphasized, “The impacts of climate change will be significantly mitigated by the project for the foreseeable future. Antioch is committed to using our water rights and staying in the Delta.”

According to DWR, they believe the Brackish Water Desalination Project is designed in an environmentally appropriate manner, promotes regional self-reliance and recognizes the value of the project that will serve Antioch’s citizens in a manner consistent with the State of California’s goals pertaining to water supply resiliency, climate change, and sea-level rise.

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Bill introduced to grant Contra Costa Water District ownership of canal system

Monday, June 11th, 2018

Contra Costa Water District canal. Photo from CCWatercom

Title transfer would advance modernization of the 81-year-old facility

This week, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Kamala Harris and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier introduced legislation to transfer federal ownership of the Contra Costa Canal System to Contra Costa Water District (CCWD), taking an important step toward modernizing the aging water supply aqueduct.  CCWD is pleased to strongly support the introduction of this legislation.

The canal system serves as the primary water delivery system for 500,000 people in central and eastern Contra Costa County. It was first constructed in 1937 as part of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project.

The canal system includes the 48-mile Contra Costa Canal, the Shortcut Pipeline, two reservoirs, and other related facilities. Under the companion bills, CCWD receives ownership of assets it has operated since 1972 and has 100% paid off (principal plus interest) since 2010. Ownership of the canal system on the local level means CCWD can more efficiently operate and maintain the system and will reduce federal administrative burdens and associated costs.

In addition, CCWD would be more secure in investing millions of dollars to modernize the aging canal.  CCWD is studying options to modernize the main canal that stretches from Rock Slough Intake near Oakley to Concord. “For those investments to be made,” said CCWD Board President Lisa Borba, “CCWD is awaiting ownership of the canal system.”

Because the canal system is currently owned by the federal government, title transfer requires an act of Congress. This canal system is an ideal unit for title transfer because, its single beneficiary, CCWD, has paid for the facilities and will continue to operate for the benefit of customers currently served.

“The canal system has reliably served the people and businesses of our community for 80 years,” President Borba said. “We appreciate the leadership from Senator Feinstein, Senator Harris and Congressman DeSaulnier to help us gain ownership of a system we can modernize to serve our customers for the next century.”

The canal system also includes recreational trails, Contra Loma and other facilities that will be maintained for recreation with the transfer. This action has gained support from local recreation managers, including East Bay Regional Park District and the cities of Walnut Creek and Antioch.

To learn more about studies to modernize the Contra Costa Canal System, visit www.ccwater.com/688.

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Frazier not happy So Cal water district voted to fund Delta twin tunnels plan

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

California WaterFix Delta bypass twin tunnels route map. From californiawaterfix.com.

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) issued the following statement on Wednesday, April 11 after the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board of Directors voted to finance the majority of the proposed $11 billion Delta twin tunnels plan,  known as the California WaterFix:

“Californians deserve comprehensive 21st century water management solutions in light of climate change and more frequent and devastating droughts, not a decades old plan that creates no benefit and picks the pockets of hard-working people.

The vote by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California shows that proponents of this project have been deceitful the whole time. There’s never been a “statewide” approach as they’ve claimed. It’s never been about sustainability but a foolhardy plan to overdraw the Delta to sell a limited and precious natural resource to the highest bidder.

This boondoggle uses antiquated methods for water delivery to degrade the water quality for all Californians and places greater burdens farmers in the Delta and Central Valley.

Just like the Colorado River Compact, this project is built on false pretenses of water availability. Met has already proven they are bad actors by overcharging San Diego for water many times. Given this history, my concern is Met may try to overcharge Central Valley farmers too.”

A press release issued Tuesday explaining their action, it stated, the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted today to provide the additional financing necessary to allow for the construction of the full California WaterFix project.

The board authorized $10.8 billion for the project to modernize the state’s aging water delivery system, making Metropolitan the primary investor in the project and more than doubling the agency’s initially planned investment to ensure the project is completed as originally proposed and studied.  “For decades, we have sought a solution to the problems of the Bay Delta, problems that put Southern California’s water supply at risk,” Metropolitan board Chairman Randy Record said. “We finally have that solution, California WaterFix. We simply could not jeopardize the opportunity to move this long-sought and much-needed project forward.”

WaterFix will be paid for by the people and businesses that use the water it helps deliver via the retail water agencies and cities that serve those customers. Metropolitan’s financing of the full project is expected to cost households on average up to $4.80 a month, though that average cost would be reduced as Metropolitan recoups some of its investments from the agricultural sector. Metropolitan will be selling or leasing capacity in the tunnels to allow water deliveries or exchanges for other parties.

About 30 percent of the water that flows out of taps in Southern California comes from Northern California via the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But the Delta’s delivery system is badly outdated, its ecosystem is in decline and its 1,100-mile levee system is increasingly vulnerable to earthquakes, flooding, saltwater intrusion, sea level rise and environmental degradation.

Attempts to help the Delta have led to regulatory restrictions that have reduced water exports from the region. California WaterFix would modernize the state’s water delivery system by building three new water intakes in the northern Delta and two tunnels to carry the water under the Delta to the existing aqueduct systems in the southern Delta that deliver water to cities and farms.

In October 2017, Metropolitan’s board initially voted to participate in WaterFix and contribute up to 26 percent of its $17 billion cost, or about $4.3 billion.  But the majority of federal agricultural contractors who also import supplies via the Delta have yet to commit to investing in the project, leaving part of the project’s costs unfunded. In February, the state proposed building the project in stages instead–starting with two intakes and one tunnel, with a capacity of 6,000 cubic feet per second. An additional intake and tunnel would be added when funding allowed.

In today’s action, Metropolitan’s board chose between supporting this staged construction of the project or helping finance the full 9,000 cfs project all at once, with the hope of recouping the investment from agricultural interests once the project is completed. Staging the project also would result in potential permitting delays associated with the change in approach.

Under the staged approach, the cost of building one tunnel would be about $11.1 billion, with Metropolitan’s share of those capital costs coming in at $5.2 billion. The board ultimately voted to support building the full project all at once at an estimated cost of $16.7 billion, with Metropolitan’s investment at about  $10.8 billion in today’s dollars.

“Two tunnels better accomplishes WaterFix’s co-equal goals of improving the environment and securing supply reliability,” said Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger. “With them, we’re better able to capture the high flows of big storms that climate change is expected to bring. We’ll better address the reverse flows that disrupt the Delta’s ecology. And we’ll have more flexibility to operate the water delivery system.”

Kightlinger added that investing in WaterFix does not change Metropolitan’s commitment to local supply development and conservation.

“This investment is just one part of ensuring Southern California and its $1.3 trillion economy has a reliable water supply in the age of climate change,” he said. “We need a diverse portfolio, including water recycling, storm-water capture, and increased conservation. We will continue to work hard and invest in those projects.”

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving nearly 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.

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