The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) has joined water agencies throughout the state in pledging its support for a project to modernize the increasingly vulnerable infrastructure that delivers critical water supplies from the northern Sierras through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Southern California.
MWD’s board of directors voted unanimously to fund its share of the environmental planning and pre-construction costs for the Delta Conveyance Project, an initiative that increases the long-term reliability of the State Water Project and makes it more resilient to climate extremes, sea level rise and earthquakes. At 47% of the $340.7 million in planning costs, MWD will be contributing $160.8 million over the next four years. The board’s vote ensures the project’s environmental review and planning phase will move forward.
“It is critical that we do everything we can to make sure this vital water supply remains reliable,” MWD board Chairwoman Gloria D. Gray said. “It not only provides nearly one third of the water used in Southern California, it is also one of our most affordable and highest quality supplies. This action helps ensure our communities can rely on this water for generations to come.”
“We’re already facing reduced water deliveries as a result of ecological challenges in the Delta. Without intervention, this critical supply faces other growing threats, particularly from climate change,” explained MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger. “We need a modernized system in the Delta that can capture runoff from large storms when they happen, and move water into storage for times of drought. And we need a system that is more resilient to earthquakes. This next planning phase is critical to developing such a system.”
MWD joins a growing list of water agencies pledging funds for the project – 15 other State Water Contractors also have voted to fund the planning process, including San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (Valley District.)
Valley District’s board also voted unanimously to commit to pay 2.8% of the costs of building the Delta Conveyance Project tunnel that will reliably carry drinking water beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. That commitment equates to about $9 million in planning and permitting costs over the next four years, and about $445 million over the life of the project.
“We are taking decisive action to restore some of our lost imported water supplies and to modernize the delivery system, stated Valley District President T. Milford Harrison. Chief Water Resources Officer Bob Tincher added, “Because we depend on imported State Water Project water for a fourth of our water supply, we can’t afford not to protect the significant investments we’ve made in developing this supplemental water supply from Northern California.”
The Delta is the most vulnerable area of the entire State Water Project because it is comprised of century-old levees that could collapse in the event of an earthquake and allow salt water to contaminate State Water Project water. The Delta Conveyance Project is expected to cost about $16 billion with construction expected to begin in 2024 and extend to about 2034.
Note — In a letter to Marci Stanage of RSCP after the vote, Charles Gale of MWD said, “Thanks to you and the Rebuild SoCal Partnership Board for your support over the past few months with the Delta Conveyance Project. The unanimous vote by the MWD Board Directors on Monday in the Bay-Delta committee, and passage of the action without a single ‘no’ vote at yesterday’s Board meeting, was in large part due to the breadth of support — written and public comment — that you provided through the Rebuild SoCal Partnership organization and Board members.”
Source: CA Water News Daily