It will be pretty dam big!
By Jennifer Allen, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa Water District
Brentwood – The Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project (Project) passed a significant milestone today, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in officially filing agreements needed to form a Joint Powers Authority. This important milestone puts a group of Local Agency Partners one step closer to Project implementation.
Los Vaqueros Reservoir is an off-stream reservoir that was originally built by Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) in 1998. The original reservoir capacity was 100,000 acre-feet and in 2012, CCWD completed the first phase of expansion to hold 160,000 acre-feet.
Expanding Los Vaqueros to a new capacity of 275,000 acre-feet and adding new conveyance facilities will provide environmental, water supply reliability, operational flexibility, water quality and recreational benefits. Those benefits earned the expansion $470 million of the $2.7 billion in water storage investments approved by voters when Proposition 1 passed. The remainder of the project costs will be covered by federal and local partners.
Transforming a local reservoir into a regional facility requires partnerships. Agencies in the Bay Area and Central Valley, serving urban areas, agricultural land and wildlife refuges, have come together to move this expansion forward. A critical step in forming this partnership is the creation of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Joint Powers Authority (JPA).
“Contra Costa Water District looks forward to working with all of the partners on the JPA in making financing, construction, and operations decisions for the expansion,” said Lisa Borba, CCWD Board President. “As the owner and operator of the system, we know the valuable benefits that Los Vaqueros continues to provide our customers and growing those benefits for a larger region is a smart investment for future generations.”
The JPA establishes the governance of the Project among the partnering agencies and provides the organizational framework for Project design, construction, operation, maintenance and funding. JPA members will bring perspectives from the agency or agencies they represent and work collaboratively to meet the needs of all agencies involved. The JPA will hold its first official public meeting in mid-November.
“The Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion is not only important for EBMUD, but for the Bay Area and the region as a whole,” said John Coleman, EBMUD Ward 2 Director and Los Vaqueros JPA Board Member. “Along with efforts such as water conservation, water recycling, and supplemental supplies, EBMUD will continue to support mutually-beneficial regional reliability efforts to prepare for an uncertain future.”
Looking forward, the Project team is continuing work to secure the necessary permits, approvals and agreements to begin construction. At this point, construction is scheduled to begin in the winter of 2023.
More information about the JPA is available at www.losvaquerosjpa.com.
OTHER JPA PARTNER STATEMENTS
Zone 7 – Tri-Valley
“For the Zone 7 Board, participation in this project represents a lesson learned from the last drought. Our constituents were clear that they wanted the Agency to pursue additional local storage and this is a key step towards fulfilling that request,” noted Angela Ramirez Holmes, Zone 7 Board President. “In addition to local storage, this regional partnership also has the benefit of emergency conveyance which is critical for when there are pumping restrictions in the Delta preventing Zone 7 from accessing State Water Project water. This alternative conveyance will increase the Tri-Valley water system’s reliability.”
Alameda County Water District
“The current drought is a stark reminder of the importance of reliable water storage, and Alameda County Water District is proud of our partnership with Contra Costa Water District and other Bay Area and regional stakeholders on this multi-benefit project,” said Aziz Akbari, ACWD Board President. “ACWD’s participation in the JPA is another example of interagency coordination for the benefit of our customers and our region as we help guide improvements in long-term water supply reliability along with wildlife and environmental benefits as California works to combat climate change.”
Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency
“The Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) is pleased to see continued progress in the Los Vaqueros Expansion Project, including this most recent milestone of the JPA formation,” said Nicole Sandkulla, BAWSCA CEO/General Manager. “The project, when in place, will serve to augment the water supply reliability of the San Francisco Regional Water System (System) during times of drought, helping to address the critical needs of the water users in the BAWSCA region that rely on the System to meet a majority of their water supply needs.”
Grassland Water District
“Grassland Water District is pleased to be involved with the formation of California’s newest water JPA,” said GWD General Manager Ricardo Ortega. “The Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project is a bright spot for California’s water future and will provide increasingly important ecosystem water supplies for wildlife refuges.”
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
“Regional Cooperation is crucial for a resilient and reliable water future for our customers given the stresses that global climate change and shifting regulations put on our water supplies,” said Michael Carlin, Acting General Manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. “The SFPUC is committed to working with our partners on regional solutions, such as the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project.”
San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority
“California’s increasingly variable water cycle – including our current devastating drought conditions – continues to reinforce the need to pursue an all of the above approach to increasing water supply reliability for our communities and ecosystems,” said Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. “We know the solutions – increased water storage, improved water conveyance, operations that are responsive to changing conditions – and are pleased to be a partner to advance the next step in making the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project a reality.”
Santa Clara Valley Water District
“Our Board is proactively exploring ways to secure enough water to help all our communities in Santa Clara County weather droughts,” Valley Water Board Chair Tony Estremera said. “Valley Water looks forward to working with our JPA partners on this important project that could improve the reliability of our region’s water supply.”