California Water Fix is Governor Jerry Brown's plan to channel snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada around the Delta via tunnel(s). This issue was one of my primary motivations for running for Zone 7 in the June 2018 election and now I want to share this post outlining my position, research, and recent news.
My position on California Water Fix: Zone 7 is a smaller water agency when compared to the San Joaquin Valley agricultural districts and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Zone 7 does not need to lead the conversation as the first water agency to support funding for this project. I would have voted no at the September 2017 Zone 7 meeting. I believe Zone 7 would better serve its constituents by prioritizing and focusing on diversification of our water supply.
California Water Fix does not guarantee more water for Zone 7! In fact, given how California Water Fix is 100% dependent on the Sierra Nevada snowpack, it is important for us to consider research such as the April 2018 report from a group of scientists at UCLA (Go Bruins!) and reviewed here. Excerpt from the review of this report: “The research examines changes to temperature, the amount of snowpack and the timing of runoff and which elevations and watersheds will be most affected as the climate warms.” This means one possible scenario is “snowmelt runoff…50 days earlier and the average snowpack is just 36 percent of the 1981–2000 average.”
The review of the report includes insights from lead researcher Neil Berg, associate director of science at the UCLA Center for Climate Science. His insights align with my position on California Water Fix:“Water managers need to be looking at much more local water storage and capture and recycling…I see an opportunity to not be so reliant on this water conveyance system (Sierra Nevada snowpack).”
Additional information about California Water Fix: Finalizing funding and implementing the “California Water Fix” project is one of California Governor Jerry Brown’s top priorities. California Water Fix is a project more commonly known as the “Delta Tunnels Project” or the “Twin Tunnels Project.” This project has an estimated cost of $15-$17 Billion USD and is controversial not only because of the cost but also because it positions “the agricultural interests of the San Joaquin Valley against the smaller, historic farms of the Delta” and threatens the ecosystem of the Delta region.
Locally, ~80% of Zone 7’s water is sourced from the State Water Project (SWP) and this means Zone 7 is one of the water agencies Governor Brown and the California Water Fix project approached for funding. The majority of the cities of Dublin, Livermore, and Pleasanton are serviced by Zone 7 Water Agency for potable water, which was the first water agency to vote to support funding for the project with a 5-2 vote in September 2017.
However, Zone 7 is also one of the smallest water agencies of the SWP and Zone 7’s funding contribution is significantly smaller than other water agencies. It is unclear if Zone 7’s vote made as big of an impact as the votes made by other SWP water agencies, such as the Santa Clara Valley Water District which provides water for most of Silicon Valley. Soon after the Zone 7 vote, in October 2017, the SCVWD, which provides water for most of Silicon Valley, voted to financially support the California Water Fix project so long as the project is limited to one tunnel instead of two. More recently, in May 2018, the Santa Clara Valley Water District voted to commit $650 Million toward California Water Fix.
In April 2018, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted yes to support the project and fund almost 2/3 of the $17 Billion USD projected costs at approximately $11 Billion USD. This was in response to the San Joaquin agricultural districts that voted to back out of supporting the plan and believe the project is a disadvantage for the Central Valley region.
*click on the image to go directly to the site where I found this map