Archive for the ‘Water’ Category

Governor Newsom announces Water Supply Strategy for a hotter, drier California in Antioch on Thursday

Thursday, August 11th, 2022

With local and state officials joining him, Gov. Newsom speaks during a press conference at the site of the Antioch Brackish Water Desalination project to announce his Water Supply Strategy on Thursday, August 11, 2022. Photos by Allen D. Payton

Outlines actions needed now to invest in new sources, transform water management

Without action, state officials believe California’s water supply could diminish by up to 10% by 2040

Introduces former L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa as state’s new infrastructure czar

Antonio Villaraigosa was introduced by the governor as the state’s new infrastructure czar.

ANTIOCH – Hotter and drier weather conditions could reduce California’s water supply by up to 10% by the year 2040. To replace and replenish what we will lose to thirstier soils, vegetation, and the atmosphere, Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced in California’s latest actions to increase water supply and adapt to more extreme weather patterns caused by climate change. Click here to read California’s Water Supply Strategy.

Thursday’s announcement at Antioch’s $110 million Brackish Desalination project follows $8 billion in state investments over the last two years to help store, recycle, de-salt and conserve the water it will need, generating enough water in the future for more than 8.4 million households by 2040.

The actions, outlined in a strategy document published by the Administration called “California’s Water Supply Strategy, Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future” calls for investing in new sources of water supply, accelerating projects and modernizing how the state manages water through new technology.

This approach to California’s water supply management recognizes the latest science that indicates the American West is experiencing extreme, sustained drought conditions caused by hotter, drier weather. It means that a greater share of the rain and snowfall California receives will be absorbed by dry soils, consumed by thirsty plants, and evaporated into the air. This leaves less water to meet the state’s needs.

“The best science tells us that we need to act now to adapt to California’s water future. Extreme weather is a permanent fixture here in the American West and California will adapt to this new reality,” Governor Newsom said. “California is launching an aggressive plan to rebuild the way we source, store and deliver water so our kids and grandkids can continue to call California home in this hotter, drier climate.”

To help make up for the water supplies California could lose over the next two decades, the strategy prioritizes actions to capture, recycle, de-salt and conserve more water. These actions include:

  • Creating storage space for up to 4 million acre-feet of water, which will allow us to capitalize on big storms when they do occur and store water for dry periods
  • Recycling and reusing at least 800,000 acre-feet of water per year by 2030, enabling better and safer use of wastewater currently discharged to the ocean.
  • Freeing up 500,000 acre-feet of water through more efficient water use and conservation, helping make up for water lost due to climate change.
  • Making new water available for use by capturing stormwater and desalinating ocean water and salty water in groundwater basins, diversifying supplies and making the most of high flows during storm events.

These actions are identified broadly in the Newsom Administration’s Water Resilience Portfolio – the state’s master plan for water released in 2020 – but they will be expedited given the urgency of climate-driven changes. To advance the infrastructure and policies needed to adapt, the strategy enlists the help of the Legislature to streamline processes so projects can be planned, permitted and built more quickly, while protecting the environment.

Over the last three years, at the urging of the Governor, state leaders have earmarked more than $8 billion to modernize water infrastructure and management. The historic three-year, $5.2 billion investment in California water systems enacted in 2021-22 has enabled emergency drought response, improved water conservation to stretch water supplies, and enabled scores of local drought resilience projects. The 2022-23 budget includes an additional $2.8 billion for drought relief to hard-hit communities, water conservation, environmental protection for fish and wildlife and long-term drought resilience projects.

Newsom also introduced former Los Angeles Mayor and Speaker of the Assembly Antonio Villaraigosa as the state’s new infrastructure czar.

“With this influx of federal dollars, we have an incredible opportunity to rebuild California while creating quality jobs, modernizing crucial infrastructure and accelerating our clean transportation progress, benefiting communities up and down the state,” Newsom said. “Antonio has the extensive experience and relationships to deliver on this promise and bring together the many partners who will be key to our success. I look forward to his collaboration with the administration as we build up communities across California.”

Antioch’s $110 million Brackish Water Desalination plant project is currently under construction.

Construction on Antioch’s desalination plant, located behind the city’s water treatment plant at 401 Putnam Street is expected to be completed next year, city Public Works Director John Samuelson shared following the governor’s press conference.

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Contra Costa Supervisors put Health Services Chief on hot seat over 13 COVID rule violating restaurants

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

“The time has come to shut down those establishments that don’t obey the code.” – District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff

“There are no Omicron variant cases yet in our county.” – CC Health Services Director Anna Roth

Approve East County Groundwater Plan; approve $95.5 million for new West County Reentry Treatment & Housing Facility

By Daniel Borsuk

A defensive Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth faced criticism from county Supervisors, especially emanating from District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff on why 13 restaurants remain open in defiance of county COVID-19 health orders. As of Sept. 22, by order of the county’s Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and other entertainment venues must require patrons show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test in order to enter. (See related article)

“There is no change in enforcement,” Roth said at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting. As of November, 99 percent of restaurants in the county are compliant. We have 13 outstanding cases.”

But Roth’s statement did not satisfy Mitchoff, the supervisor who initially unveiled the code enforcement issue with the county health services.

“The time has come to shut down those establishments that don’t obey the code,” Mitchoff said. “We have done the education. We’ve done the warning.”

None of the owners of the 13 restaurants spoke at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting. Lumpy’s Diner in Antioch, and MJ’s Downtown Café are among eating establishments that the county has tagged as out of compliance of COVID-19 health code.

One of the 13 restaurants on the county’s red tag list, the In-n-Out in Pleasant Hill has been closed for indoor dining health code violations.

District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg came to the defense of Roth and her department’s code enforcement division commenting, “I think you’re doing an outstanding job out there. The volume of people out there who are out of compliance is small. I enjoy eating inside a restaurant. I understand the stress,”

In the meantime, Roth reported that while 75.6 percent of Contra Costa County residents are fully vaccinated, twenty-seven persons are hospitalized in county hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms One patient dies daily on average from COVID-19 symptoms, she noted.

“There are no Omicron variant cases yet in our county,” said Roth.

In an interview for a KRON4 news report, County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said, “We don’t just jump right in there with a fine at the get go. We give the businesses the opportunity. Because our goal is to get to compliance for people to follow the order. Our goal isn’t to issue a bunch of fines.” The report also shared that Farnitano said only four restaurants in the county have been fined.

East County Groundwater Sustainability Plan Approved

Supervisors also approved the East Contra Costa Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan on a 5-0 vote. The $1.4 million groundwater study applies to the cities of Antioch and Brentwood, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, Diablo Water District, Discovery Bay Community Services and East Contra Costa Irrigation District.

Even under drought like conditions, the plan found, “Groundwater conditions in the ECC Subbasin are favorable and reflect stability over the past 30 years or more. Using various analogies, the Subbasin can be described as generally full through various water-year types, including drought and is in good “health.” The favorable conditions are in part due to surface water availability that represents the largest sources of supply for municipal and agricultural uses in the Subbasin.”

Ryan Hernandez of the Department of Conservation and Planning said if the board of supervisors did not adopt the ECC-GSP, the county would be in violation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which would result in the State Water Resources Board intervening in local groundwater management.

Rendering of the entrance of the West County Re-entry Treatment and Housing Facility. Source: Contra Costa County

$95.5 Million West County Detention Facility Expansion Plan Approved

Supervisors unanimously approved a $95.5 million design-build contract with Montana-based contractor Sletten Construction Company to design and build five secure housing units, a medical treatment center, reentry program space and building, and visitation facilities at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond. It will be known as the West County Re-entry Treatment and Housing Facility. WRTH presentation CCCBOS120721

One of the objectives of the project is to reduce overcrowding by 128 inmate beds to 288 high-security inmate beds in five housing units. Ninety-six beds will still be mental health treatment beds.

Possible Relocation of Marsh Creek Shooting Range

In a related matter, supervisors approved as a consent item a report on the future use and potential relocation of the shooting range at the Marsh Creek Detention Facility possibly to the Concord Naval Weapon Station. At the low-security detention facility inmates learn wood making skills and other basic education skills.

Used also as a training facility for the Office of the Sheriff and law enforcement agencies from Contra Costa County and surrounding counties, the Marsh Creek Range Facility generates revenue for the county. The range will bring about $113,000 for fiscal year 2021-2022, wrote County Administrator Monica Nino in her report to the supervisors.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

 

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Los Vaqueros Reservoir Joint Powers Authority formed for capacity expansion of 275%

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

Los Vaqueros Reservoir JPA partners. Source: CCWD

It will be pretty dam big!

By Jennifer Allen, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa Water District

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

Brentwood – The Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project (Project) passed a significant milestone today, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in officially filing agreements needed to form a Joint Powers Authority. This important milestone puts a group of Local Agency Partners one step closer to Project implementation.

Los Vaqueros Reservoir is an off-stream reservoir that was originally built by Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) in 1998. The original reservoir capacity was 100,000 acre-feet and in 2012, CCWD completed the first phase of expansion to hold 160,000 acre-feet.

Expanding Los Vaqueros to a new capacity of 275,000 acre-feet and adding new conveyance facilities will provide environmental, water supply reliability, operational flexibility, water quality and recreational benefits. Those benefits earned the expansion $470 million of the $2.7 billion in water storage investments approved by voters when Proposition 1 passed. The remainder of the project costs will be covered by federal and local partners.

Transforming a local reservoir into a regional facility requires partnerships. Agencies in the Bay Area and Central Valley, serving urban areas, agricultural land and wildlife refuges, have come together to move this expansion forward. A critical step in forming this partnership is the creation of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Joint Powers Authority (JPA).

“Contra Costa Water District looks forward to working with all of the partners on the JPA in making financing, construction, and operations decisions for the expansion,” said Lisa Borba, CCWD Board President. “As the owner and operator of the system, we know the valuable benefits that Los Vaqueros continues to provide our customers and growing those benefits for a larger region is a smart investment for future generations.”

The JPA establishes the governance of the Project among the partnering agencies and provides the organizational framework for Project design, construction, operation, maintenance and funding. JPA members will bring perspectives from the agency or agencies they represent and work collaboratively to meet the needs of all agencies involved. The JPA will hold its first official public meeting in mid-November.

“The Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion is not only important for EBMUD, but for the Bay Area and the region as a whole,” said John Coleman, EBMUD Ward 2 Director and Los Vaqueros JPA Board Member. “Along with efforts such as water conservation, water recycling, and supplemental supplies, EBMUD will continue to support mutually-beneficial regional reliability efforts to prepare for an uncertain future.”

Looking forward, the Project team is continuing work to secure the necessary permits, approvals and agreements to begin construction. At this point, construction is scheduled to begin in the winter of 2023.

More information about the JPA is available at www.losvaquerosjpa.com.

OTHER JPA PARTNER STATEMENTS

Zone 7 – Tri-Valley

“For the Zone 7 Board, participation in this project represents a lesson learned from the last drought. Our constituents were clear that they wanted the Agency to pursue additional local storage and this is a key step towards fulfilling that request,” noted Angela Ramirez Holmes, Zone 7 Board President. “In addition to local storage, this regional partnership also has the benefit of emergency conveyance which is critical for when there are pumping restrictions in the Delta preventing Zone 7 from accessing State Water Project water. This alternative conveyance will increase the Tri-Valley water system’s reliability.”

Alameda County Water District

“The current drought is a stark reminder of the importance of reliable water storage, and Alameda County Water District is proud of our partnership with Contra Costa Water District and other Bay Area and regional stakeholders on this multi-benefit project,” said Aziz Akbari, ACWD Board President.  “ACWD’s participation in the JPA is another example of interagency coordination for the benefit of our customers and our region as we help guide improvements in long-term water supply reliability along with wildlife and environmental benefits as California works to combat climate change.”

Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency 

“The Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) is pleased to see continued progress in the Los Vaqueros Expansion Project, including this most recent milestone of the JPA formation,” said Nicole Sandkulla, BAWSCA CEO/General Manager. “The project, when in place, will serve to augment the water supply reliability of the San Francisco Regional Water System (System) during times of drought, helping to address the critical needs of the water users in the BAWSCA region that rely on the System to meet a majority of their water supply needs.”

Grassland Water District

“Grassland Water District is pleased to be involved with the formation of California’s newest water JPA,” said GWD General Manager Ricardo Ortega. “The Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project is a bright spot for California’s water future and will provide increasingly important ecosystem water supplies for wildlife refuges.”

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

“Regional Cooperation is crucial for a resilient and reliable water future for our customers given the stresses that global climate change and shifting regulations put on our water supplies,” said Michael Carlin, Acting General Manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. “The SFPUC is committed to working with our partners on regional solutions, such as the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project.”

San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority

“California’s increasingly variable water cycle – including our current devastating drought conditions – continues to reinforce the need to pursue an all of the above approach to increasing water supply reliability for our communities and ecosystems,” said Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. “We know the solutions – increased water storage, improved water conveyance, operations that are responsive to changing conditions – and are pleased to be a partner to advance the next step in making the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project a reality.”

Santa Clara Valley Water District

“Our Board is proactively exploring ways to secure enough water to help all our communities in Santa Clara County weather droughts,” Valley Water Board Chair Tony Estremera said. “Valley Water looks forward to working with our JPA partners on this important project that could improve the reliability of our region’s water supply.”

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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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