Archive for the ‘Water’ Category

City of Antioch files second lawsuit against the Delta tunnels project

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Proposed route of the California WaterFix (i.e. Delta Twin Tunnels). From YouTube video on californiawaterfix.com

Claims state in breach of 1968 agreement with City

On August 25, 2017 the City of Antioch filed a second action in the Sacramento Superior Court this month against the California Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) relating to the proposed California WaterFix Project – e.g. the Delta Twin Tunnel Project. The City previously filed an action challenging the WaterFix Project’s Final Environmental Impact Report. (See video on the WaterFix, here).

In its most recent action, the City contends that DWR breached the 1968 agreement between DWR and Antioch intended to protect the City’s water supply from the impacts of the State Water Project. The 1968 agreement contains a specific provision known as the “me-too” clause requiring DWR to provide Antioch with terms substantially similar to any terms granted to any other agency in the Delta. In 2016, DWR entered into a new agreement with Contra Costa Water District containing terms substantially more favorable than those granted Antioch in its 1968 Agreement. Despite numerous attempts by Antioch to work with DWR to amend the 1968 Agreement, as legally required, DWR has refused to offer Antioch terms similar to those granted to Contra Costa Water District.

Notably, the terms of the 2016 Contra Costa Water District agreement acknowledge the adverse impacts to water quality that will result from the WaterFix Project in the Delta near Antioch. That agreement also directed DWR to “diligently” pursue negotiations with Antioch regarding the adverse impacts of the WaterFix Project – which DWR has failed to do.

Antioch believes that DWR is improperly selecting “winners and losers” with respect to the adverse impacts of the proposed twin tunnels project on municipal water suppliers in the Delta. The City contends that this is exactly the situation that the “me-too” clause in the City’s 1968 Agreement was intended to prevent.

Antioch as a city depends on the Delta for its quality of life, its drinking water supply, recreation and economic future. As one of the largest cities located entirely in the Delta, Antioch has been closely aligned with the protection of the Delta and its restoration. WaterFix and its unmitigated adverse impacts are in conflict with both of these critical goals.

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Supervisors back state funding of Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Los Vaqueros Reservoir. Photo by Aerial Photographer Dick Jones. Courtesy of CCWater.com

By Daniel Borsuk

The first shovel may not plunge into the ground for the expansion of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir until 2022, but the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors have signed on to back state financing of the Contra Costa Water District’s reservoir project.

With District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen and District 1 Supervisor John Gioia absent Tuesday, supervisors voted 3-0 as a consent item to send a letter of support for the reservoir to the California Water Commission to tap into 2014 voter approved $2.7 billion of state Proposition 1 funds so that the Contra Costa Water District can enlarge the reservoir’s capacity from 160,000-acre feet to 270,000-acre feet.

The Proposition 1 funding would pay 50 percent, or about $450 million of the estimated $900 million price tag with the CCWD and other participating water agencies and their customers picking up the construction price tag.

Although supervisors did not hear either opposition or support concerning their letter, the supervisors’ letter did acknowledge the reservoir project could present an environmental problem unless the CCWD takes action to address it.

Supervisors expect the CCWD to resolve an issue about a proposed alignment of the Transfer-Bethany Pipeline that could upset the environment to a portion of 13,000 acres to the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan, a state funded part of the Natural Community Conservation Plan.  Contra Costa County and the cities of Brentwood, Clayton, Oakley and Pittsburg adopted the ECCC habitat conservation plan in 2007.

“Nothing has been decided on the pipeline’s alignment, “said CCWD Public Affairs Director Jennifer Allen. “We still have a lot of steps to go through including the pipeline alignment.”

“With this being a big rain year, I think this is a great thing to move forward on,” said Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood, whose District 3 encompasses much of Los Vaqueros Reservoir.  “If we’re going to spend this kind of money, it’s better to build something that stores water during the rainy years.”

“This is an opportunity to invest against future droughts by adding to our water storage,” said board chair Federal Glover.

Supervisors Adopt New Cardroom License Ordinance

Supervisors also approved a cardroom ordinance that lays out a procedure to ensure that business operations are not interrupted following “an unforeseen event” including the death of the current licensee.

Under the new ordinance, the Sheriff’s Office is designated as the department responsible for licensing gambling establishments locally, is to be notified of the event within 10 days of the event occurrence and identify the appropriate party that should obtain a license. The successor party is required to obtain a license within 30 days of the event.

In Contra Costa County, the California Grand Casino at 5988 Pacheco Blvd. in Pacheco and the 19th Hole Casino and Lounge at 2746 W. Tregallas Road in Antioch are the only licensed cardrooms, according to the State Attorney General’s Office.

Automated License Plate Readers

In other business, supervisors gave the green light for the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff to 21 Lehr Automated License Plate Readers for $225,000 for use in unincorporated Alamo to help curb property crimes.

Installation of the Lehr ALPRs will begin at the end of August and should be completed in September, said Sheriff Lt. Jason Haynes of the Alamo Sheriff Office.  The ALPRs will be installed at seven intersections.

Sheriff David Livingston said while a review of crime statistics in the Alamo area does not show a significant increase in reported crime over the last several years, “there was an increase in property crime and residential burglaries specifically in the Contra Costa central 680 corridor.”

The county will not pick a dime on the acquisition of the ALRs because the funds are donated through three private sources.  One unnamed contributor donated $95,000.  Members of the Alamo Police Services Advisory Committee are providing $50,000 and P-6 Alamo-Las Trampas has contributed $80,500.

Alamo will join Danville, Orinda, Lafayette, Clayton and Pittsburg that have Lehr ALPRs installed on city street intersections, Lt. Haynes said.

Lt. Haynes said the license plate readers have proven to work effectively in solving especially property crimes.  He said the Sheriff’s Department has made 25 arrests in connection with Danville stolen vehicle heists over a 12-month period.

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Frazier: Delta tunnels project must not proceed

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D–Discovery Bay), co-chairman of the California Legislative Delta Caucus, released the following statement Friday, July 21 after reports Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has given the green light to the proposed Delta tunnels project.

“I represent more of the Delta than any other member of the Assembly, and I will do everything in my power to stop this ill-conceived and destructive project,” Frazier stated. “The truth is, ultimately the disaster of an idea called the Delta tunnels would disrupt the Delta economy and significantly burden agricultural production, recreational activities, the natural migratory paths of endangered fish species and legacy communities.  The governor needs to explore real options that communities throughout the Delta can support to achieve the co-equal goals of restoring and protecting the Delta’s habitat, and providing clean and reliable water to Californians.  He must not green light the tunnels plan.”

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Delta tunnels project reaches key milestone as state environmental review is certified

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Clearing another major milestone toward the modernization of the state’s water delivery system, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today certified the environmental analysis of the California WaterFix, also known as the Delta tunnels. Friday’s announcement follows recent federal biological opinions that confirm the project is consistent with environmental and wildlife protection standards.  

“Today, we have reached our next important benchmark in moving California towards a more reliable water supply,” said DWR Acting Director Cindy Messer. “With this certification, our state is now closer to modernizing our aging water delivery system in a way that improves reliability and protects the environment.”

The WaterFix will modernize a 50-year-old water delivery system that is increasingly vulnerable to disruption by natural disaster and climate change. With new intakes along the Sacramento River, the project also would give water project operators the flexibility to divert water at times of high flow when the risk to native fish at the new diversion facilities is minimal, thus better balancing water supply and environmental protection needs.

Friday’s certification comes after more than a decade of analysis, review, and public comment. State and federal water and wildlife agencies have been working since 2006 to find the best way to improve how the State Water Project and Central Valley Project obtain water from the channels of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Together, the projects supply 25 million Californians with some or all of their drinking water supply and help irrigate three million acres of farmland.

The Notice of Determination and decision documents signed by Acting Director Messer approve WaterFix as the proposed project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The project helps ensure stable water supplies for millions of Californians. CEQA requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible. WaterFix Notice of Determination

DWR, which operates the State Water Project, screened more than 100 different proposals before analyzing 18 alternatives in depth in the final 50,000-page Environmental Impact Report (EIR) under CEQA. The combined public comment period on these environmental analyses lasted nearly a year.

The project was refined several times to shrink its footprint, minimize impacts to Delta landowners, and make other changes.

The CEQA certification, Notice of Determination, and decision documents put WaterFix a step closer to construction, which could begin as early as 2018. As both a modern and ambitious infrastructure project, WaterFix will require world-class engineering, efficient construction management, aggressive cost containment, and transparent business operations. 

In addition to the certification, DWR also filed a “validation action” today with the Sacramento County Superior Court to affirm the department’s authority to, among other things, issue revenue bonds to finance the planning, design, construction and other capital costs of California WaterFix. A validation action is necessary to provide assurances to the financial community for the sale of the California WaterFix revenue bonds. 

Meantime, DWR and the federal Bureau of Reclamation have completed a substantial portion of the proceedings before the State Water Resources Control Board to change the point of diversion for the state and federal water projects to allow operation of the WaterFix.

For more information, including fact sheets about project costs, cost allocation, project delivery and environmental benefits, visit www.californiawaterfix.com.

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