Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Seeking State Funding for Ecosystem Improvement and Emergency Response Benefits

August 17, 2017 8:00 am · 12 comments

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.

Sacto Rob August 17, 2017 at 9:00 AM

More storage is good storage.

Fred August 17, 2017 at 9:10 AM

As long as they don’t use it to build more houses.

whodat August 17, 2017 at 9:59 AM

Once again the powers that be have missed the boat. There’s a major problem with this plan: it was reported the reservoir will be drained during construction, which means 500K water users who paid for Los Vaqueros (both times!) will been kicked around while the district tries to send us water from who knows where. There is NO need to build any more reservoirs in California! Adding a couple of processes to our existing water treatment plants would allow all those gallons dumped by waste water treatment plants to be totally potable. Central Sanitation discharges over 25 million gallons a day! Most of the infrastructure is already there to accomplish the “toilet to tap” (TTT) scenario. It’s a proven technology. it’s used by our space program; it’s used by water poor nations in the Middle East; it’s absolutely safe; no one’s reported any disease outbreaks from its use. Over 80 percent of Californians support it, according to a recent article in the Times. If the clowns in charge of the LV plan do not fairly evaluate TTT in their environmental documents, you can rest assured a legal challenge will be filed.

Concord Mike August 17, 2017 at 10:14 AM

I like the idea so long as the people who paid to build this reservoir (you and me in CCWD) get first dibs on the water supply during the next drought.

Strad August 17, 2017 at 11:13 AM

I’m still paying for the original construction. How about a big rate reduction paid by the outside agencies that will reap the benefits of the expansion?

Chicken Little August 17, 2017 at 11:18 AM

Even if you could save all that water that Central San discharges, you still have to store it somewhere. That’s why we need more reservoirs.

And the right has it August 17, 2017 at 12:19 PM

How about if we kick all the illegals out, there will be plenty of water for everyone?

J August 17, 2017 at 1:13 PM

How about they give boaters the access promised when we voted for this thing????????? Don’t care what they do now… they got what theybwanted and we got…. thats right NOTHING!!!!

Kirkwood August 17, 2017 at 2:56 PM

The question is, when all is said and done; when the next big drought happens, will we, the (present) owners be better or worse off with a dozen more straws in the glass?

I agree with whodat, advanced tertiary treatment is indeed a goal we should strive for. Currently the problems that must be overcome are, bringing down the costs of the process like power consumption, removal of heavy metals (currently, copper is the most difficult), hormones, and antibiotics. Reverse osmosis does not do a complete job. To our benefit, California generally has the most stringent environmental laws in the nation.
Fact; during the winter when river flows are high, CCCSD discharge can be cleaner than the water already in the river.

chuckie the troll August 17, 2017 at 3:01 PM

How about a rebate/refund to ratepayers who were gouged during purchase and initial construction? With interest?

Aldrich August 17, 2017 at 3:48 PM

The primary purposes of the project per:

• Develop water supplies for environmental water management that supports fish protection, habitat management, and other environmental water needs.

• Increase water supply reliability for water providers within the San Francisco Bay Area, to help meet municipal and industrial water demands during drought periods and emergencies or to address shortages due to regulatory and environmental restrictions.

Simply, 1) environmental water management 2) water supply security

whodat August 17, 2017 at 5:47 PM

Sorry chicken little but you can reuse all you need and discharge what’s left (if any). I want to see the analysis that TTT is not feasible, then I’ll accept it. We can store water in our existing impoundments and meter out whatever we need to make up any shortfall. Everybody, yourself included, merely spouts the Board’s line. TTT is needed now!

And Kirkwood: Don’t confuse desalination with TTT. Water good enough to discharge to the Bay is already fairly clean. Hell, I use it in my garden every day and having talked to some of the bosses at Central San, know it’s close to potable. The biggest expense would be the pipeline to send it from the wastewater plant to the water treatment plan.

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