Next Phase of Delta Conveyance Project is Funded by Metropolitan Board

California water agencies and the Metropolitan Water District pledged support for a project to modernize the increasingly vulnerable infrastructure that delivers water supplies from the northern Sierras through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Southern California.

Metropolitan’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to fund its share of the environmental planning and pre-construction costs for the Delta Conveyance Project, a state initiative to increase the long-term reliability of the State Water Project and make it more resilient to climate extremes, sea level rise and earthquakes.

“It is critical that we do everything we can to make sure this vital water supply remains reliable,” Metropolitan board Chairwoman Gloria D. Gray said. “It not only provides nearly one-third of the water used in Southern California, it is also one of our most affordable and highest quality supplies. This action helps ensure our communities can rely on this water for generations to come.”

The board’s vote ensures the project’s environmental review and planning phase will move forward. Fifteen other State Water Contractors also have voted to fund the planning process.

The Delta Conveyance Project is part of Governor Newsom’s portfolio approach to water management and calls for the construction of new conveyance facilities in the Delta that would carry water from the Sacramento River to State Water Project facilities in the south Delta. As proposed, the single-tunnel project would feature two intakes and a capacity of 6,000 cubic feet-per-second, though other project alternatives are also being considered as part of the planning process.

“We’re already facing reduced water deliveries as a result of ecological challenges in the Delta. Without intervention, this critical supply faces other, growing threats, particularly from climate change,” Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said. “We need a modernized system in the Delta that can capture runoff from large storms when they happen and move water into storage for times of drought. And we need a system that is more resilient to earthquakes. This next planning phase is critical to developing such a system.”

Metropolitan will fund 47.2 percent of the $340.7 million in planning costs estimated over the next four years, amounting to an estimated share of $160.8 million.

The information produced by the environmental review process is essential for Metropolitan’s board to make an informed decision on whether to support the project’s construction. A draft Environmental Impact Report is expected in mid-2022.

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