Antioch files claim with state water department demanding reimbursement for costs during times of high salinity

Antioch’s water pump station on the river. Photo courtesy of Kathy Bunton,

Dating back to 1968 Agreement, due to rerouting of water to the State Water Project

By Allen Payton

On Friday, the City of Antioch announced it has filed a claim with the State of California seeking relief for the Department of Water Resources’ (“DWR”) failure to perform specific key terms of an agreement between the State and Antioch dating from 1968 commonly referred to as the “1968 Agreement”.  The purpose of the 1968 Agreement is to mitigate the impacts of the State Water Project (“SWP”) on the City’s water supply.  The 1968 Agreement requires the DWR to reimburse the City a portion of Antioch’s cost to purchase substitute water when high salinity resulting from the SWP adversely impacts the City’s own water rights.

The key term of the 1968 Agreement at issue in the City’s claim is a clause that requires the DWR to grant Antioch substantially the same terms granted by the DWR to any other entity in the Delta.  This clause is commonly referred to as the “me-too” clause.

In March of 2016, the DWR entered into an Agreement with Contra Costa Water District (“CCWD”) to replace an existing 1967 agreement between the parties similar to the City’s 1968 Agreement.  Antioch contends that this new 2016 agreement grants CCWD substantially more favorable terms than those granted by DWR to Antioch under its present 1968 Agreement triggering the application of the me-too clause.  To date, the DWR has refused to perform the me-too clause granting Antioch terms substantially similar to those it granted to CCWD in 2016.

Additionally, analysis performed both by Antioch and the DWR indicates that the operation of the 2016 Agreement between CCWD and the DWR could potentially result in worsening water quality at Antioch.  These new potential impacts on the City’s water supply are not mitigated by the City’s 1968 Agreement. The DWR has so far refused to negotiate new terms to protect the City from these additional impacts resulting from the new CCWD agreement.  The City’s claim against the DWR includes a demand to mitigate or eliminate any such new adverse impacts to the City’s water supply.

Before city staff treats the water that it sends to customers, it usually pumps the raw water directly from the river. However, in 2015 and 2016 the city was forced to purchase 95% of its raw water from CCWD, because the salt water from the bay had intruded passed the Antioch’s intake water pumps along the river, off of Fulton Shipyard Road, next to the old boat launch. Antioch pays nothing for the water it pumps from the river, according to its pre-1914 riparian rights.

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Antioch water pump station Kathy Bunton

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