Metropolitan Board Officially Endorses California WaterFix – $4.3 Billiion
The biggest water decision of this generation of Southern Californians was reached yesterday as Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors voted to support a state-federal project to modernize the state water system and help improve supply reliability for the Southland.
Metropolitan’s board approved the district’s 26 percent share of financing the California WaterFix project as well as moving forward on a governance structure to build and finance the $17 billion project. Metropolitan’s share is about $4.3 billion.
WaterFix is an upgrade to the state’s 50-year-old water infrastructure that will make it easier to move water in an environmentally friendly manner. The current system is outdated and unreliable, and dependent on levees that put our clean water supply at risk from earthquakes and sea level rise. The new location and technology will minimize reverse flows and reduce impacts to endangered fish. It will maintain water quality and standards needed for a healthy Delta ecosystem. WaterFix will contribute to the restoration and protection of approximately 15,600 acres of critical Delta habitat as mitigation for ongoing construction and operational impacts, in addition to restoring more natural Delta flow patterns.
“Every generation of Southern Californians has to reinvest in our water system to ensure a reliable water future. Today marks one of those historic votes that reaffirms that commitment and vision,” Metropolitan Board Chairman Randy Record said.
About 30 percent of the water that flows out of taps in Southern California comes from Northern California via the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Delta’s delivery system, however, is badly outdated, a problem compounded both by a declining ecosystem that is harmful to fish and a 1,100-mile levee system that is increasingly vulnerable to earthquakes, flooding, saltwater intrusion, climate change and environmental degradation.
California WaterFix’s new water intakes, twin tunnels in Delta would help secure future water reliability for Southland, address climate change
California WaterFix would modernize the decades-old delivery system by building three new intakes in the northern Delta along with two tunnels to carry water to the existing aqueduct system in the southern Delta.
“Given our size, Metropolitan is the anchor tenant for any successful California WaterFix, and this vote puts us on record as being ready and willing to participate. We still have a ways to go before we have a final, fully funded project, but this vote keeps WaterFix on the path to finding a viable and lasting solution,” Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said.
With the board’s action, Metropolitan becomes the latest water agency in the state to approve participation in California WaterFix. Among State Water Contractors, the boards of Zone 7 Water Agency, Mojave Water Agency, San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency, Desert Water Agency, San Bernardino Municipal Water District and Crestline-Lake Arrowhead Water Agency have all voted to support the project.