California’s largest supply of clean water is dependent on 50-year-old levees. Earthquakes, floods and rising sea levels could cause these levees to fail, putting our fresh water supply at risk from saltwater contamination.
The current system is inefficient and cannot adequately capture and store water when it’s available. We are leaving behind fresh water that could be used by farms, businesses and communities.
Without an update to our water infrastructure, the environment and the state’s economy are at risk. We face serious potential for disruption to our water supplies causing job loss, higher food and water prices, and significant species decline.
The current pumps are extremely powerful, causing harmful reverse flows, trapping endangered fish and pulling them toward predators. We can’t let endangered species go extinct.
WaterFix is a science-driven upgrade to our aging water system. It will provide clean, reliable water while protecting our environment. WaterFix covers five main areas:
WaterFix is supported by engineers, scientists, water experts, California businesses and environmental groups. It is the result of an unprecedented level of public review and comment, and was chosen after evaluating thousands of alternatives because it is an economically smart solution to our state’s water problem.
California WaterFix (WaterFix) is a bold, forward-thinking approach to California’s toughest water problems. It will modernize our aging water delivery system and go beyond the status quo to protect sensitive fish species. Key components include:
2 tunnels up to 150’ below ground designed to protect California’s water supplies
3 new intakes, each with 3,000 cubic-feet per second (cfs) capacity and an average annual yield of 4.9 million acre-feet
Protection against water supply disruption from failure of aging levees due to sea-level rise, earthquakes and flood events
Reinstate a more natural direction of river flows in the South Delta
New criteria to protect spring outflow to San Francisco Bay
Criteria to protect Sacramento River flows and fish
Based on ongoing review of potential construction and operational impacts, mitigation for California WaterFix construction and operation will include about 2,300 acres of habitat restoration and up to 13,300 acres of habitat protection (e.g. conservation easements). This additional acreage will focus primarily on preserving habitat and wildlife-friendly agriculture in the Delta. DWR and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation anticipate these revised acreage targets for habitat restoration and protection will be the maximum amount required for mitigation. Final determinations will be based on actual project impacts and consultation with fish and wildlife agencies. All habitat restoration and protection costs for California WaterFix will be paid for exclusively by water agencies benefiting from the project.
Separate from California WaterFix and over the next 5 years, California will pursue more than 30,000 acres of critical Delta restoration under the California EcoRestore program, pursuant to pre-existing regulatory requirements such as the 2008 and 2009 biological opinions and various enhancements to improve the overall health of the Delta ecosystem.
Proposition 1 funds and other state public dollars will be directed exclusively for public benefits unassociated with any regulatory compliance responsibilities.
Improve habitat conditions along five miles of important juvenile salmon migration routes
Restore tidal and non-tidal wetland habitat to sustain habitat functions for native wildlife, such as the giant garter snake and salmon
Restore native riparian forest and scrub to support habitat for riverside species and improve linkages for terrestrial and other native species
Improve connectivity among existing patches of grassland and other natural habitats
The cost to fix California’s primary water delivery system is estimated at $14.9 billion - or about $5 a month for urban water users – and will be paid for by public water agencies that rely on the supplies.
The delta smelt is on a trajectory towards extinction in the wild. Heading into 2017, the spawning adult population was at an all-time low although this past wet winter has apparently seen a small resurgence. However, increasingly warm summer temperatures in the Delta may dampen any upswing. Given the long-term trajectory of the population and climate predictions for California, maintaining Delta smelt in the Delta for the next 20-30 years is not likely to happen without significant improvements to the habitat.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued an incidental take permit for the construction and operation of California WaterFix in compliance with Section 2081(b) of the California Endangered Species Act.
The Notice of Determination (NOD) for the California WaterFix environmental analysis was signed today, clearing a major milestone toward modernization of the state's primary water delivery system. With finalization of the NOD and associated decision documents, DWR has approved WaterFix as the proposed project under the California Environmental Quality Act.
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