State Water Project and Conservation Highlight Event
The 16th Annual Southern California Water Conference hosted by the Building Industry Association of Southern California was held on Friday at the Ontario Doubletree Hotel. The event focused on issues of water supply and conservation measures and was attended by elected officials, water district board members and staff, and homebuilders from throughout Southern California.
The opportune timing of the conference followed the unexpected announcement Thursday by Governor Newsom of a 19-page California State Water Plan that includes new efforts to increase water supplies from desalinization, storm water capture, new reservoirs, water recycling, and other measures to augment existing supplies that have been dramatically reduced by nearly a decade of drought.
Key to the future of California is the stabilization of the Sacramento River Delta and the California State Water Project (SWP) that brings water 444 miles through the California Aqueduct to Southern California. Built in the 1960’s, only the first phase of the project was completed and the existing project faces ongoing challenges from endangered species mitigation, drought and potential salt water intrusion in the Delta.
Graham Bradner, Executive Director of the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority provided an update on the latest effort to improve the SWP with the Delta Conveyance Project, a single pipeline proposal, replacing the former dual pipeline envisioned in previous efforts. The preferred Bethany Reservoir Alignment would build a single 36-foot wide pipeline from the North Delta 45 miles to the Bethany Reservoir to the South capable of transporting up to 6,000 cubic feet of water per second during peak operation.
According to the Department of Water Resources Draft Environmental Impact Report Summary, “the Delta Conveyance Project is expected to allow continued water deliveries and operational flexibility should catastrophic levee failure from seismic activity, extreme weather or pressure from sea level rise, or other disasters that may temporarily disrupt routing or quality of surface water supplies. In addition, the proposed north Delta intake locations are not vulnerable to salinity intrusion from sea level rise.”
According to Bradner, if the project is approved, construction could begin in 2028 with possible completion by 2040. Comments on the Draft EIR are due by October 27, 2022.
Panels at the conference covered timely discussions on water conservation, incorporating conservation measures in new and existing construction, and stormwater capture efforts. The Keynote Speaker for the event was Adel Hagekhalil, General Manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
Platinum Sponsors for the Southern California Water Conference were the County of San Bernardino, the City of Ontario and the San Bernardino County Flood Control District.