Contra Costa Water Protected if California WaterFix Becomes a Reality

By on May 2, 2016
Contra Costa Water Protected if California WaterFix Becomes a Reality

Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) and the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) recently announced an agreement regarding the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan /California WaterFix (CWF), aka the “twin tunnels”, should they be built.

Since 2006, CCWD has publicly raised concerns with the state about the twin tunnels regarding several issues unique to CCWD. These included potential impacts to water quality, construction of the twin tunnels and federal financing and contract supply allocation as CCWD is a Central Valley Project contractor.

“We take our role to protect our customers seriously and cannot gamble with the future of our water supply or quality,” said CCWD General Manager Jerry Brown. “Should this project (the twin tunnels) move forward without these assurances in place, CCWD’s facilities and operations would be negatively impacted.  We are confident this is an iron-clad insurance policy for our customers, we wouldn’t have reached an agreement otherwise.”

CCWD has been actively engaged in the state’s actions regarding the twin tunnels since discussions began in 2006. Though CCWD is not dependent on the proposed twin tunnels they are not a proponent of the project.

However, with the state and its project proponents moving CWF forward, CCWD and its board of director reviewed the options available to them in pursuing resolution of their issues—negotiate, continue protesting the matter (and let the State Water Board make the decision) or sue under the California Environmental Quality Act thereby letting the courts determine the matter–and opted to negotiate. The state was amenable and negotiations ensued.

Key to the settlement for CCWD was that it did not result in any rate increases for CCWD customers nor would it redirect any potential impacts to other areas.  It protects CCWD facilities if/during tunnel construction where the tunnels would cross under a CCWD pipeline near two of CCWD’s Delta water supply intakes. The agreement ensures that if there is any water quality degradation at the CCWD’s Delta intakes or Los Vaqueros Reservoir from operation of the tunnels, a portion of CCWD’s water would be conveyed to CCWD’s system from a higher quality source. The redirecting of a portion of CCWD’s supplies from northern intakes will not cause impacts on the Delta and CCWD will not receive any additional water under the new agreement with the state.  This ensures the Delta environment and other legal water users are not harmed.

Additionally, any costs associated with this agreement, including the construction, operation, and upkeep will be paid for 100 percent by DWR and not by CCWD’s customers. All settlement agreements were negotiated in confidential meetings.

“We’re pleased to have reached an agreement with CCWD that is good for their customers and good for the 25 million Californians who depend upon the State Water Project,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “We appreciate CCWD’s reasonable, efficient, and effective approach to resolving concerns about California WaterFix.”

“We are confident knowing we have taken actions to protect our customer’s future if the tunnels are ever constructed,” commented Brown. “The state is committing to a significant investment to ensure CCWD customers will be made whole, and this agreement protects our ability to deliver high quality water to those we serve.”