The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California and two other water districts funding the California Waterfix tunnel project have announced the formation of a public agency for its design and construction.
The $17 billion project is designed to divert water from the Sacramento River as it enters the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and carry it to existing federal and state pumping stations in the southern part of the delta through one or two 35-mile tunnels.
The new Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Joint Powers Authority, or DCA, will hold its first meeting on May 17. The MWD, providing water to the Los Angeles and San Diego regions, has joined with the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the Zone 7 Water Agency in the Bay Area to form the new oversight agency.
“With today’s formation of the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Joint Powers Authority, we are taking another important step forward to build California WaterFix and provide much of our state with the water supply reliability it needs in a climate change world,” said MWD chair Randy Record. “Using a Design and Construction Authority, Metropolitan and the other public water agencies that are investing in California WaterFix will be able to safely manage, design and construct the project with transparency and accountability, while the state Department of Water Resources maintains a strong and important oversight role. We are confident this partnership is the best structure to manage risk and ensure WaterFix is built on time, on budget and to the highest engineering standards.”
“Our mission to modernize California’s primary water delivery system took another incredibly important step forward today,” said Jennifer Pierre, general manager for the State Water Contractors. “Northern and Southern California public water agencies have united in a partnership to efficiently and responsibly advance the construction of one of the most important infrastructure projects of our lifetime. We anticipate several other public water agencies to join the DCA in the coming weeks and months.”
The MWD board voted last year to contribute $4.3 billion toward the WaterFix project, then voted last month to increase its investment to $10.8 billion, providing the remaining funding of the $17 billion needed to build the full two-tunnel project after some other major water agencies declined to invest in it.
The California Department of Water Resources also announced that it has created the Delta Conveyance Office, which will oversee the work of the DCA. During the Thursday meeting, the DCA Board of Directors will consider entering into a management partnership with DWR.
“Thoughtful decision-making, transparency and a commitment to public participation will be central to the mission of the DCA as it assumes responsibility for building California WaterFix,” Pierre said.