Archive for the ‘Water’ Category

Antioch awarded $10 million from state for brackish water desalination plant

Friday, March 16th, 2018

How brackish water is formed.

One of only four California cities or water agencies to receive the highly competitive water quality grant

The City of Antioch has announced its award as only one of four California cities or water agencies to receive $10 million in state grant funding to establish a ground-breaking, first-of-its-kind, local brackish water desalination treatment facility. It will allow the City to generate its own clean, safe, quality water. Many prominent cities and water agencies competed for the highly-sought after grants from the State Department of Water Resources to fund drinking water production and other uses. Only Antioch, Santa Barbara, Camarillo and the South Coast Water District were awarded grants for construction of water treatment plants.

“Creating millions of gallons of clean, reliable, quality water will allow our community to protect our city residents and businesses from fluctuating water costs and water shortages in the long-term,” said Mayor Sean Wright.

Brackish water is salt water and fresh water mixed together and found in estuaries. The grant will help defray the total estimated cost of $62 million for the brackish water plant for which the City will continue to pursue other grant funds that could be obtained as soon as this summer. (See related articles, here and here).

“Antioch is leading statewide innovation on these clean water quality and local water control issues,” said City Manager Ron Bernal. “With so many high-profile cities and water agencies competing for these grant awards, I couldn’t be more pleased that our city’s innovation, creativity and leadership was recognized by the awards panel – making our city successful in securing Antioch’s fair share of these state funds.”

The highly competitive state grant from Prop. 1 Water Bond funds, which the voters approved in 2014, will help establish a local, water desalination facility within the city’s current water treatment plant. It will turn salty river water into six million gallons per day of clean drinking water, using a safe, secure, reverse osmosis treatment system and positioning the City as a local and regional clean water provider and statewide innovator.

“Establishing Antioch’s own local water plan allows our city to treat and store our own water locally, expanding our ability to be self-reliant, keep water costs down, and attract industries that need a reliable local water supply,” Wright added.

The clean water that is needed by industry will help attract businesses to locate in the city. While seawater reverse osmosis has a conversion rate of 35 percent to 40 percent, the conversion rate of brackish water could be more than 90 percent, with only 10 percent returning to the river. That will help maximize the use of the City’s rights to river water of as much as 16 million gallons per day.

“This is a tremendous economic development engine which allows Antioch to competitively attract and retain all manner of businesses and industries who need a reliable local water supply,” said Bernal. “Antioch is one of the few communities in the state able to offer this benefit to our residents and business stakeholders.”

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State recommends $10 million in water bond funds for Antioch desalination plant

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

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

Frazier: Project great example of alternative to disastrous tunnels

The City of Antioch’s plan to build a brackish water desalination plant on the San Joaquin River received a boost from the State Department of Water Resources (DWR), which is recommending a grant of $10 million in Proposition 1 Water Bond funds to the city for construction of the project.

It is one of eight projects on the listed the DWR released in its draft funding awards for the fourth round of Proposition 1 Desalination Grants. The projects are recommended for funding to receive a total of $34.4 million of available funds.

The Antioch City Council unanimously voted to pursue the grant for the $60 million desalination plant at their meeting on December 12, 2017. (See related article.)

“I am pleased to see the hard work we put into passing the Water Bond paying off on a local project that will improve the quality and reliability of fresh water for Antioch residents,” said Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-Discovery Bay. “This is the type of project we envisioned in the Legislature when we passed the Water Bond legislation and asked voters to approve it.”

Officially titled the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Act and known as Proposition 1 when voters approved it in 2014, the legislation authorized $7.545 billion in general obligation bonds to fund ecosystems and watershed protection and restoration, storage and water supply infrastructure projects and drinking water protection.

“This project creates new fresh water and is a great example of an alternative to the proposed foolhardy Delta tunnels project, which does not create a single drop of new water,” Frazier added. “This plant will use brackish water that is currently not utilized to increase our overall supply of fresh water. This is the type of water project California should be investing in – creating new water with minimal impact on the environment and unambiguous benefit to end users.”

When completed, Antioch’s proposed plant would desalinate up to six million gallons of brackish water per day using a reverse osmosis treatment system. The plant – estimated to cost about $62 million total – would be contained inside the city’s current water treatment facility boundaries on Putnam Street.

Allen Payton contributed this report.

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Frazier: One Delta tunnel is a deception

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

California WaterFix (i.e. Delta Twin Tunnels) route. From

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, issued a statement on Thursday, after the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced it is significantly altering the proposed WaterFix project to construct one larger tunnel first and build a second tunnel later.

Assemblyman Jim Frazier

On Wednesday, the DWR sent a memo to the local public water agencies participating in the development and construction of California WaterFix and issued the following statement from DWR Director Karla Nemeth.

“WaterFix is a long-overdue infrastructure upgrade that will maintain a reliable water supply for 25 million Californians while also protecting the Delta ecosystem. With the current stated support of the participating public water agencies, the state is proposing to pursue WaterFix as planned, but also explore an option to implement construction in stages. This prudent approach aligns the urgent statewide need for action with the project’s current support. We are eager to move forward with WaterFix to protect the Delta and water supplies.”

The memo further states “The option for a first stage includes two intakes…one tunnel, one intermediate forebay, and one pumping station.”

Frazier responded with the following statement:

“The Department of Water Resources is trying to sell its latest WaterFix revision as a one-tunnel plan, but that is smoke and mirrors,” Frazier stated. “Their plan still calls for two tunnels. The new plan still poses the same threat to the Delta’s environment, agricultural economy and way of life. There still is no cost-benefit analysis or economic justification for the project.  The project still does not create a single ounce of new water.

DWR has shape-shifted the size of the tunnels. This is now an entirely new project. The process must start over from the beginning, with an entirely new Environmental Impact Report.  The proposed new and even larger tunnel will have even greater ecological and economic impacts on the Delta.

DWR can’t just amend the EIR and biological opinions and pass it off as legitimate. The size and scope of a project this size demands a thorough process and the ability for the people of the Delta to voice their concerns.

DWR’s method for estimating the cost of its revised plan is also curious. Instead of doing a comprehensive cost analysis for the revised proposal, they gave us lazy math. They just took $16.3 billion cost estimate they have been using and chopped it into thirds.

When I was a construction contractor, I couldn’t just change my building plans without bringing it back for review. DWR and the Administration should not be exempt from process that all building projects are subject to in California, especially on one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the state’s history.”

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Antioch’s plans for $60 million Brackish Water Desalination plant move forward

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

Map of current and proposed pipelines for the Brackish Water Desalination Project.

City seeks state grant and loan

By Allen Payton

At their December 12, 2017 meeting the Antioch City Council heard a report about their efforts to build a brackish water desalination plant and obtain the estimated $60 million in funding needed. They also heard about the strong water rights the city has, how the plant will help attract businesses to town and the opportunity to be in the water resale business, to provide long-term funding for operations. See the complete staff report on the agenda item, here: Brackish Water Desal Project ACC Mtg Agenda 121217-2

Project consultant Walter Bishop, the former General Manager of the Contra Costa Water District, provided the background on the plant and efforts to get it funded.

“We have hopes Antioch will be on the state funding list, which is expected to be announced this month,” he said.

“Antioch has one of the strongest, historic water rights in the California Delta,” Bishop continued. “The state has granted twice the amount of water rights than it has water. You have real water. It’s not called paper water. Yours has been adjudicated. Your two sources of water are your particular water right and the Contra Costa Water District’s canal water.”

“The estimated value…is between $70 and 100 million. Your ability for you to exercise your water rights…saves the customers of this city about $4 million per year,” he stated. “The more reliable your supply is the more ability to attract economic activity.”

It’s not going to be a desalination plant, because “Desalination is associated with ocean water. This is brackish water. It’s fifty-time less saline than ocean water. It’s one-third the cost of ocean desalination.”

“Treating Contra Costa Water District water is $1,000/acre feet,” Bishop explained. The estimated cost of treating “brackish water is $920/acre feet.”

It takes treating 7.5 million gallons of brackish water to produce 6.0 million gallons of useable water, he shared.

“The city has to build a new intake and state-of-the-art fish screens,” said Bishop. “There is land at the city’s water treatment plant for a new facility. Plus, Antioch owns 50% capacity rights of the water recycling at the Delta Diablo Sanitation Plant. The plan is to run a new water pipeline from the city’s water plant off Putnam over to Delta Diablo on West 10th Street.”

“With the new pump the city will have a variable speed pump which will be better for the city’s needs,” he added.

“It will help with industrial and other businesses looking to locate here,” Bishop stated. “There is a potential of regional partners with the flexibility to expand the facility. The cost is estimated at $60 million.”

According to the city staff report on the agenda item, so far, the city has received a $1 million loan the “Drinking Water State Revolving Loan program for planning and preliminary design activities.” The city has also applied for a $10 million state grant. In addition, city “staff has met with SWCRB (State Water Resources Control Board) staff and has confirmed the project is eligible for low interest financing up to $50,000,000.”

Final design and permitting for the plant is expected to be completed in 2018 and the project could be online in late 2019 or early 2020, depending on securing funding.

Councilman Tony Tiscareno was first to make a comment about the project report.

“We know that water is the new hot commodity. It can be very expensive,” he said. “I’m getting very excited about this. I thought it was more of a pipe dream than a reality. But it’s turning out to be more of a reality…to protect our water rights. I’ve always been supportive of this. I hope the loan interest rate is something we can do. This is all good stuff.”

Mayor Sean Wright, who represents the city on the Delta Diablo sanitation district board said, “As far as Delta Diablo goes, they were questioning if they had the capacity for all the brine. One of the facilities we plan to build is a holding tank…to time discharges.”

The EIR (Environmental Impact Report) coming forward is for the 6-million-gallon desalination plant. Will a 16-million-gallon desalination plant fit on the site we’re looking at?” he asked.

“Absolutely,” Bishop responded.

Wright then asked, “The $50 million shortfall, your confident we can get a low-interest loan from the state?”

“We’d prefer grants,” Bishop replied. “For every $10 million in free money your costs come down $100.”

“We could be looking at the summer of next year for the funding?” Wright asked.

“You’re correct,” Bishop said.

“How are our relationships with the Contra Costa Water District?” asked the mayor.

“I think our relationships over there are fine. I used to be the GM over there,” Bishop shared. “We’re kind of suing the state,” he said referring to the city’s lawsuit over the proposed Delta tunnels “Contra Costa Water is responsible…Your staff was very careful to not name both parties,” meaning CCWD and the state.

Wright then asked, “Is there any potential for revenue generation? If we did a 3P (public private partnership) [will there be] any general fund revenue for the city?”

Bishop shared how “Gary Darling, when he was at Delta Diablo he had a vision of an ultrapure plant. If somebody, a high-tech company…they need ultrapure water, you’re providing the foundation for that. Second, during a drought, when costs go up 25% plus a surcharge, you’ll have the opportunity to have water that other people can use. The price of water during a drought is what the seller sets it at.”

Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe asked how the city can sell the water to create a revenue source for the city.

“Your water rights allow you to divert 16 million gallons of water a day,” Bishop responded.

The council then voted unanimously to receive and file the report.

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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

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

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

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