Washington, DC – Amid California’s ongoing drought, Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Jerry McNerney (CA-9) introduced the Sustainable Water Supplies Act (H.R. 4862) to increase the water supply in areas of Northern California by expediting the expansion of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County. The reservoir is a 160,000 acre-foot storage facility built in response to the state’s last historic drought in 1977. It was last expanded in 2012 to meet local water needs, and is permitted to be nearly triple its current size.
“As we enter the fifth year of a devastating drought, it is long past the time to find ways to guarantee fresh, clean water for the residents of Contra Costa County and the surrounding area. Our local industry and economy would greatly benefit from a sustainable water source without the public spending a single federal dollar. An expansion of our water supply at no federal cost is a no-brainer,” said DeSaulnier. “Without this bill, local storage facilities like Los Vaqueros would not be allowed to enter water storage agreements with local and federal partners. It is a mechanism for the reservoir to receive investment for the shared goal of creating a sustainable water supply in our area.”
“I am happy to support environmentally sound storage projects like Los Vaqueros. This bill will promote an important expansion to an essential reservoir at no cost to the government and could provide even more water supply reliability in the region. We must move toward regional self-sufficiency, and responsible water infrastructure projects like Los Vaqueros are an important part of that process,” said McNerney.
“We thank Congressman DeSaulnier and Congressman McNerney for their efforts in support of water storage projects in California. Further expansion of the reservoir and conveyance facilities would broaden the regional water supply benefits and protection of Delta fisheries. CCWD looks forward to this opportunity to demonstrate how partnerships with local agencies who use space in the reservoir can help us meet our regional needs,” said Lisa M. Borba, Vice President of the Contra Costa Water District.
The legislation outlines a phased approach for the expansion of the reservoir with the help of the Federal Bureau of Reclamation. Under the first step, outside water districts would lease extra space in the existing 160,000-acre-foot reservoir to store surplus water. The reservoir would later be enlarged to up to 500,000 acre feet after enough agencies or water districts agree to share costs and become partners in the planned expansion.
See the full text of the bill, here: HR4862