California WaterFix and California Eco Restore

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a critical link in the state’s water supply system, and home to one of California’s most important ecosystems. More than 25 million Californians and 3 million acres of farmland rely on water that moves through the Delta. Currently, this vital water supply is ushered through by 100-year-old, fragile levees that are vulnerable to collapse in the event of a major earthquake. If such an event were to occur, saltwater could contaminate freshwater in the Delta, and a critical source of water could be unavailable for a year or longer for 2-out-of-3 Californians.

The Coachella Valley relies on this imported water to replenish the valley’s groundwater basin. Replenishment is an important tool in eliminating overdraft of the aquifer.

Investments in our water infrastructure are critical for continued water supply reliability. For seven years, state and federal agencies have been developing a long-term plan to make these important investments in our statewide water system to avoid outages and restore the Delta ecosystem.
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

California WaterFix and California Eco Restore

More than 25 million California residents rely upon the State Water Project (SWP) for at least a portion of their drinking water. SWP water also is used to irrigate hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. Officials have identified four areas of concern regarding the SWP:
  1. The water system is out of date and the water supply is at risk. Portions of the SWP include the Delta, where 50-year-old levees are all that prevent earthquakes, floods or rising sea levels from contaminating California’s largest supply of clean water with saltwater.
  2. The current system is inefficient and cannot adequately capture and store water when it becomes available. Water that could be used by residential communities, businesses and farms instead flows into the Pacific Ocean.
  3. If the SWP is not updated there exists a serious potential that the water supply could be disrupted, perhaps for several years. The result would be job losses, higher food and water prices and significant species decline.
  4. Pumps currently used are extremely powerful, causing harmful reverse flows that trap endangered fish and pull them toward predators. As a result pumps can be shut down for considerable periods of time, reducing the amount of SWP that is available across California.

WaterFix is described as an update to California’s aging water delivery system and part of the state’s overall water management portfolio, which includes conservation, groundwater management, recycling and ecosystem protection. In April 2015 state and federal officials took the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and split it into California WaterFix and California Eco Restore.

Water delivery updates in WaterFix include:

  1. Two tunnels up to 150 feet below ground will protect California’s water supplies from sea level rise, earthquakes, floods and levee failures.
  2. Three new northern intakes, each with 3,000 cubic-feet per second (cfs) capacity, will be located farther upstream, closer to higher quality of water with reduced impact on fish habitats.
  3. The gravity-fed tunnels will move water naturally, more efficiently with reduced harm to fish.

New infrastructure will reinstate more natural direction of river flows in the south Delta, minimizing harmful reverse flows caused by powerful pumps. San Francisco outflow requirements will continue to protect against salt water intrusion and improve the overall health of the Delta ecosystem. The new location is farther away from endangered species with advanced screens that protect even the smallest species. About 15,600 acres of critical Delta habitat will be restored and protected as mitigation for ongoing construction and operational impacts.

WaterFix has an estimated cost of $17.1 billion and most of the expenses will be paid for by the public water agencies that benefit from the improved infrastructure. California WaterFix Fast Facts.pdf

California Eco Restore is a four-year program to help coordinate and advance at least 30,000 acres of critical Delta habitat. Much of the $300 million in cost will also be paid for by public water agencies required to mitigate for the ecological impacts of the SWP and Central Valley Project. Funding also comes from Proposition 1 grants to local governments, non-profit organizations and other entities that support habitat enhancements throughout the Delta, the Delta Conservancy and the state departments of Fish and Wildlife and Water Resources. California Eco Restore Overview.pdf