Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Water Conveyance Project: Public Review Process Opens

The public review process has begun on the latest proposal to modernize the state’s water distribution system with a project to convey water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The Delta is central to the aging water distribution system that provides water for more than two-thirds of Californians.

The current system was built more than 60 years ago to deliver water from the Sierra Nevada through the Delta to homes, farms and businesses throughout the state.

The existing Delta infrastructure is vulnerable due to the ongoing degradation of natural habitats, the threat of catastrophe if Delta levees collapse from an earthquake and increasing water salinity from rising sea levels.

Bethany Dam
Drone aerial view shows Bethany Dams and Reservoir, located on the California Aqueduct at the south end of the Delta. One proposed path for the single pipeline conveyance would end at Bethany Reservoir. Photo taken January 20, 2022 by California Department of Water Resources

Modernized System

Options covered in the draft environmental impact report (EIR) for the Delta Conveyance Project include Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposal for a single pipeline water conveyance project.

According to the state Department of Water Resources (DWR), if the project had been operational during the big storms in October and December 2021, DWR could have captured and moved about 236,000 acre-feet of water — enough for about 2.5 million people or nearly 850,000 households for a year — into the San Luis Reservoir.

“If approved after completion of the environmental review process, the project will also help California manage through periods of severe drought like the one the state is experiencing now,” DWR said in a news release.

New Delta water transmission infrastructure was one of four essential projects the California Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of Water Conveyance said the state should develop to ensure ongoing, reliable new water sources to serve urban and agricultural uses.

Project Benefits

Supporters say the single pipeline conveyance system will:

Protect water security for two-thirds of the state. Without action, water supplies through the state’s main distribution infrastructure will become increasingly unreliable.

Improve the reliability and security of the state’s water system by modernizing aging infrastructure using the most innovative technologies and engineering practices.

Protect water supplies from the effects of climate change, sea level rise and earthquakes by delivering water through a modern water pipeline rather than solely through today’s deteriorating level system.

Prepare for the impacts of climate change by improving the state’s ability to capture, move and store water to account for extreme swings in drought and flood, and protect against salinity caused by sea-level rise.

Serve as a critical component of a comprehensive water portfolio for state and local water managers.

More Information

To help interested parties understand and navigate the draft EIR, DWR has prepared informational resources and tools. Items include explainer videos, fact sheets, brochures, flyers and more. The materials are available on the Delta Conveyance Project website at www.deltaconveyanceproject.com.

Timeline

The 90-day comment period on the draft project EIR will end on October 27. DWR will respond to “substantive comments” in the final EIR and projects that the EIR will be finalized in fall 2023.

Staff Contact: Brenda Bass

Brenda Bass
Brenda Bass
Brenda Bass joined the California Chamber of Commerce on January 24, 2022 as a policy advocate specializing in water supply and storage issues. She came to the CalChamber policy team from the Sacramento office of Downey Brand, where she was a senior associate. She advised public agency and private clients on environmental review requirements, as well as applying for and complying with water quality permits. She has experience with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) litigation and groundwater quality issues for agricultural and water clients throughout California. She also advised clients on Clean Water Act matters, compliance with state and federal laws governing stormwater and wastewater quality, as well as assisted agricultural enterprises with rapidly changing irrigation discharge regulations. Before joining Downey Brand, Bass practiced at a California boutique environmental firm. She also externed for a federal bankruptcy judge in Sacramento. Bass earned a B.A. in linguistics at the University of California, Davis, and a J.D. with distinction from the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, where she was primary editor of the McGeorge Law Review.

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