On May 8, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors voted to participate in the California WaterFix project, the state’s proposed plan to improve the infrastructure that carries water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This vote is in line with the board’s Oct. 17, 2017 vote which offered conditional support to the project and asked that the state consider a lower-cost, scaled-down and phased project.
The board’s vote enables the district to successfully reduce the risks for Santa Clara County, protect low-income residents and qualified fixed-income seniors from increased water costs, expand the water district’s governance role for Northern California, obtain benefits for the environment, and ensure that decisions will come back to the board if conditions change again.
On Wednesday, May 2, after five hours of discussion and public comment, the district board decided to delay for a week its important vote on California WaterFix to give all board members sufficient time to review all the materials and testimony that had been presented.
In the long and lively debate over this important and complex issue, a few important points are often overlooked:
- The Delta is in an unsustainable state. The levees that make up the state’s water distribution system in the Delta are 50 years old and made up mostly of dirt. Experts have warned that even a moderate sized earthquake could collapse this system and put our water supply at risk. California WaterFix addresses this risk.
- No matter how much rain we get, we won’t be able to capture and store enough water to meet current and future demands unless we fix the water delivery system.
- The vote which passed today is fully in line with the Guiding Principles the board adopted in October 2017. The board indicated that if there were significant changes, they would take another look. That’s what that board has done.
- Metropolitan Water District’s decision to finance a significant portion of the two-tunnel project reduced the financial risk to Santa Clara County, but it also took a one-tunnel or phased project off the table.
- While there will be a cost to local rate payers for our participation, the cost of replacing our lost imported water supplies would be much higher.
The district will continue to engage and negotiate financial arrangements to protect Santa Clara County’s and the residents’ interests and to ensure our water supply for the future.
To solidify Santa Clara Valley Water District’s governance role in project, the water district will move forward with executing agreements per the board’s action. Santa Clara Valley Water District’s role as a Northern California participant will ensure its interests are served and Santa Clara County benefits are achieved.