For Ecosystem Improvement and Emergency Response Benefits
With $2.7 billion available in state funding available for water storage projects, Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) is working with partners to secure over $400 million to pay for public benefits of expanding the Los Vaqueros Reservoir. State funding could help build storage and other facilities that would provide substantial ecosystem and water supply reliability benefits.
Los Vaqueros Reservoir, in Brentwood, is owned and operated by CCWD. Efforts have been underway, with potential partners, to evaluate a Phase 2 expansion of Los Vaqueros from 160,000 acre-feet to 275,000 acre-feet. An expanded reservoir could provide varying levels of benefits for local partnering agencies, while maintaining all the existing benefits in which CCWD’s customers already invested.
“CCWD and its customers benefitted greatly from Los Vaqueros in the last drought and continuously benefit from the improved water quality the reservoir provides,” said CCWD Board President, Lisa Borba. “The potential expansion of Los Vaqueros into a regional facility presents a significant opportunity for our customers, the environment and local agency partners.”
More storage capacity and additional pipes to move water directly to partners could bolster preparedness for droughts, increase water deliveries to wildlife refuges, and provide additional Delta ecosystem improvements.
Potential beneficiaries include local water agencies and Central Valley wildlife refuges. While an expansion cannot meet every water service need for all agencies, it would give partners an additional tool to help deal with droughts and other challenges. An expansion will depend on a combination of local, state and federal investments – state funding is one component.
State funding for water storage projects will be administered by the California Water Commission. Only public benefits can qualify for the state funding approved by voters when Proposition 1 passed in 2014. CCWD has submitted an application on behalf of the potential partners for $434 million to fund the public benefits of the $914 million expansion project (estimated in 2015 dollars).
The majority of the public benefits would come by way of reliable water supplies for wildlife refuges that provide critical habitat for migratory birds and many other species dependent on the last remaining wetlands in the Central Valley. Additional public benefits include emergency response, fisheries protection, and recreation associated with an expanded reservoir.
The California Water Commission will be reviewing all applications for the Proposition 1 funding, with a preliminary eligibility and funding decision scheduled for June 2018.
For further information about the project and application, or to provide comments, please visit: www.ccwater.com/lvstudies.