The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency pledged its support this week for the approval of a massive statewide infrastructure project intended to increase the water supply and reliability for millions of people throughout California.
The Department of Water Resources certified the final environmental impact report, or EIR, Thursday for the Delta Conveyance Project, a modernization of the infrastructure system that’s part of a plan several decades in the making.
In broad strokes, the project is expected to help the state capture and move more water during wet seasons to better weather the state’s dry seasons and protect against earthquake disruptions to the state’s water supply.
The state describes the project as an approximately 45-mile conveyance tunnel that would be built 36 feet wide with its segments 18 inches thick and more than 140 feet underground. There will be two intakes, each capable of handling 3,000 cubic feet per second. The EIR for the massive project spanned two volumes with 39 chapters.
State officials also said the proposed project’s Bethany Alignment would connect to the State Water Project at the Bethany Reservoir, where the 444-mile California Aqueduct begins, and head north to Yolo County.
The idea, according to officials, is to help the State Water Project endure the rapid swings between wet and dry conditions that have become the new normal as the state’s climate changes.
“SCV Water welcomed the news today that the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has taken a major step forward to make the state’s water system more resilient to climate change and natural disasters while protecting and enhancing the environment in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta,” SCV Water spokesman Kevin Strauss wrote in an email Dec. 8 when the state was preparing to approve the plan.
After several years of drought conditions, California had one of its wettest water seasons on record with Santa Claria’s rainfall total reaching 44.69 inches for the 12-month period ending Sept. 30.
“Following intense evaluation by scientists and engineers over several years, it is clear that this project is necessary to provide increased water security for the 27 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland depending on it,” according to a statement from the DWR.
There has certainly been scrutiny on the plan, the first iteration of which was rejected by state voters back in 1980, and then faced years of delays and questions over funding, according to past reports in The Signal.
“Modernized infrastructure in the Delta is a missing link to the state’s most affordable and reliable source of water,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources. “Improving water use efficiency and increasing local water supplies is an important compliment to the State Water Project to ensure that a climate proof water supply remains affordable now and into the future.”
With the state expected to lose 10% of its water supply by 2040 due to hotter and drier conditions, the Delta Conveyance Project is critical to protecting the state’s future supply, according to local officials.
“It is important to recognize the essential role played by water sourced from the State Water Project in the overall supply portfolio that sustains our community. The State Water Project is a significant ongoing investment our community has made over decades,” said SCV Water General Manager Matt Stone. “The Delta Conveyance Project further reinforces this lifeline, and in conjunction with water storage and banking investments offers critical support during dry periods in our Valley. These vital initiatives ensure a reliable and resilient water supply, safeguarding our future and providing for the well-being of the people we serve in the Santa Clarita Valley. In the intricate dance of water management, these projects are the choreography that keeps our community flourishing and thriving.”