California’s water supply is at risk. 40 percent of our drinking water travels long distances through 100-year-old dirt levees – leaving our water supply vulnerable to salt water intrusion or such natural disasters as earthquakes. Governor Brown recognizes the critical need to modernize the state’s water distribution system and is supporting the California WaterFix – a comprehensive water storage and distribution solution that is the culmination of nearly a decade of planning, design and expert analysis from the state’s leading water policy experts.
That is why ACEC California joined a large and diverse coalition of nonprofits, businesses, environmentalists, elected officials and local governments that support the California WaterFix to communicate the need for the project to a number of local water districts, officials, and the public. As a result, this summer resulted in significant momentum for the project, with positive opinions from the federal government and project approval by the state.
Since September, State Water Project (SWP) contractors across the state have recently voted to more forward and support WaterFix, including Metropolitan Water District, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Kern County Water Agency, Zone 7 Water Agency, and others.
Unfortunately, the large agricultural Westlands Water District, that receives water from the federal Central Valley project, opted out of the current financing plan. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t move forward with a “user-based” financing plan that ensures water contractors only pay for the water they receive.
It is also important to clarify that the while the Department of the Interior confirmed publicly that it does not support the current funding plan, the federal government will continue to work with the state and stakeholders in an effort to move the project forward.
The bottom line is that the system of century-old dirt levees that delivers water to 25 million Californians is vulnerable to both natural disasters and rising sea levels. The state must act to fix this infrastructure; and fortunately, despite these minor setbacks, the dialogue continues to move forward. Experts are continuing to explore how SWP contractors and Central Valley Project stakeholders can continue to work together on the project.
The California WaterFix has undergone unprecedented review and analysis by the state’s leading water experts, engineers, and conservationists. It will improve the safety and reliability of our water distribution system by upgrading aging and outdated infrastructure, and ACEC California will remain a supportive partner of improving and protecting the state’s water supply.