Annual Southern California Water Conference returns from Covid Hiatus

The need for Sacramento Delta Conveyance Project among topics highlighted.

The 2021 Southern California Water Conference returned to the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, CA after a year of Covid restrictions on Friday.  Last year’s event was a strictly on-line Zoom event and this year’s participants voiced significant satisfaction that a sense of normalcy was returning to California, even in the midst of growing challenges in the water industry.

The morning-long event focusing on California water issues, is hosted annually by the Building Industry Association of Southern California Baldy View Chapter in partnership with San Bernardino County, water agencies, cities and businesses.  The four main topics for this year’s conference focused on Water and Housing, Water Supply, Water Affordability, and Water Efficiency.

Keynote speaker Jennifer Pierre, General Manager of the State Water Contractors, tied all of the subjects together in a lunch presentation on the Delta Conveyance Project, California’s current effort to restore the efficacy of the California State Water Project (SWP) that feeds fresh water from the Sacramento River Delta to Central and Southern California.

The State Water Project was constructed under the auspices of Governor Pat Brown in the 1960’s and has provided a stable water supply to farmers, businesses and residents for generations.  Over 27 million residents and 750,000 acres of farmland currently depend on resources from the SWP, but that stability is now at risk due to changing environmental laws, endangered species, saltwater incursion into the Delta and excessive farming within the Delta itself.

According to Pierre, the best and only option for the continued efficacy of the State Water Project is the Delta Conveyance Project, that would build an additional point of diversion in the Sacramento River.  Coupled with the existing points of water diversion in the Delta, this single tunnel project is intended to restore and protect the reliability of the SWP to ensure California’s largest supply of clean water is climate resilient.

“Nothing in the Delta is working right now,” said Pierre when describing the current conditions in the Delta related to the environmental and political machinations of the Delta.  “The Delta Conveyance Project is not a silver bullet, but it is an integral component to California’s long-term water supply.”

The State Water Project originally served a California population with under 16 million people.  The state now exceeds 40 million people and the SWP must be updated.

In Pierre’s assessment, without the Delta Conveyance Project, the “State Water Project will not be around in 50 years,” and she reminded local water officials that “now is a good time to talk about where our water comes from!”

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