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Regional Conveyance Study-Colorado River Aqueduct-RCS-primary-June 2020

Draft Study Highlights Region’s Water Conveyance Options

A draft report released today by the San Diego County Water Authority shows that building a new conveyance system to transport regional water supplies from the Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement is cost-competitive with other long-term options for meeting the region’s water needs.

The draft Phase A report is under review by water officials across the region. The Water Authority’s Board of Directors is expected to decide whether to move to Phase B at its July 23 meeting.

“By releasing this draft report – along with an independent review of key financial assumptions – we are trying to spark a thoughtful dialogue about our region’s water future,” said Dan Denham, deputy general manager for the Water Authority. “Given the long lead time for major water infrastructure projects, it’s important that San Diego County wrestle with these complex questions today so we can control our own destiny tomorrow.”

The Phase A report is the result of technical and cost analysis by Black & Veatch Corp. and the economic analysis by Water Authority staff. The engineering firm conducted similar studies for the Water Authority dating back to 1996, assessing “single use” water-delivery projects in those studies. The current Phase A analysis looks at conveyance projects with multiple partnership possibilities and potential benefits for the environment, water agencies and others.

Two viable alternatives emerge

Three potential pipeline routes were studied in Phase A, and the draft report says two alternatives (3A and 5A) are cost-competitive with other options, such as relying more on Metropolitan Water District of Southern California or developing additional local supplies.

Phase A takes a conservative approach to cost protections, by not factoring in potential partnerships or other sources of funds. However, partnerships and other agreements could significantly reduce the cost and enhance the value of a regional conveyance system. Phase B would include more detailed analysis of potential partnerships and funding opportunities and more details about projected costs from MWD.

“A decision about the Regional Conveyance System cannot be made in the abstract,” said Kelly Rodgers, director of the Water Authority’s Colorado River Program. “It must be made based on a comparison of the available alternatives, and we look forward to additional analysis and perspectives from our member agencies in the weeks ahead.”

The Water Authority currently pays MWD to transport QSA water through the Colorado River Aqueduct to San Diego. The regional conveyance system would be designed to convey the QSA water, which in 2021 will reach its full amount of 280,000 acre-feet of water annually. The current Water Transfer Agreement between the Imperial Irrigation District and the Water Authority continues to 2047. Both agencies can agree to extend the transfer another 30 years to 2077.

Conveyance routes would connect to All-American Canal

Each of the potential conveyance routes would connect to the tail end of the All-American Canal where it meets the Westside Main Canal in the southwest corner of Imperial Valley.

Two of the routes would follow a southern corridor between the Imperial Valley and San Diego, with one route over the mountains paralleling the U.S./Mexico border and the other tunneling through the mountains. Both routes would end at the San Vicente Reservoir in Lakeside.

The third and northernmost route would follow the Westside Main Canal toward the Salton Sea, then flow past Borrego Springs, and through the mountains. It would eventually connect to the Water Authority’s Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant in San Marcos.

Draft report findings

  • The region will continue to need QSA water through 2112.
  • All three RCS alternatives are viable from a technical and engineering perspective.
  • Alternatives 3A and 5A are economically competitive and provide long-term reliability and low-cost water to the region.
  • Alternative 5C is not economically competitive with Alternatives 3A and 5A and will not be recommended for further study.
  • Alternatives 3A and 5A could be integrated without major changes to current Water Authority operations.
  • Potential multi-agency, multi-use partnerships and other agreements could significantly reduce the cost and enhance the value of each RCS alternative and provide regional benefits to San Diego, California and the Southwest.

To read the report, go to

CWA Ratifies Contracts, Accepts Notice of Completion for Pipeline 5 Repairs

Eventually the San Diego County Water Authority will develop and implement a long-term fix for the vulnerability of the three SDCWA pipelines in Moosa Canyon, but the short-term fix for Pipeline 5 is now complete.

A unanimous CWA board vote, Thursday, May 28, ratified four contracts approved administratively by CWA General Manager Sandra Kerl and authorized Kerl to accept the work as complete.

“Earlier this month, in May, we shut down Pipeline 5 to remove the bulkheads and we resumed normal operations on May 8,” Neena Kuzmich, engineering manager of CWA, said.

LAFCO Approves Detachment Review Committee

San Diego’s County’s Local Agency Formation Commission approved a committee to review issues regarding the proposed detachment of the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District from the San Diego County Water Authority.

An 8-0 LAFCO board vote June 1 approved the composition of the committee, although LAFCO executive officer Keene Simonds will appoint the specific members and the list of tasks for the committee.

“We have agreement with the County Water Authority, Rainbow and Fallbrook,” said county supervisor Dianne Jacob, who is the chair of the LAFCO board.

“We have consensus on the tasks. I think we have a working agreement on the composition,” Simonds said.

CWA Sets June 25 Rate Hearing

The San Diego County Water Authority hearing to approve calendar year 2021 rates and charges will be June 25.

The May 28 motion to set the rate hearing date along with the proposed rates and charges passed with 78.139% of the SDCWA weighted vote. Twenty-one CWA board members supported the motion. Fallbrook Public Utility District general manager Jack Bebee, who is also FPUD’s representative on the CWA board, cast one of the eight votes against the action. Tom Kennedy, who is the Rainbow Municipal Water District general manager and Rainbow’s CWA representative, abstained as did Lois Fong-Sakai, who is one of the city of San Diego’s representatives on the CWA board.

A non-voting presentation earlier in the day addressed proposed changes to the CWA’s two-year budget which covers fiscal year 2019-2020 and fiscal year 2020-2021; the June 25 CWA board meeting will also include consideration of the budget adjustments. If the rates and charges are approved June 25, the action will also allocate the pro-rata shares of total fixed charges to each CWA member agency.

Opinion: Beyond COVID and Social Unrest, Valley’s Big Problem Remains Declining Groundwater

In these extraordinary times, managing groundwater for long-term sustainability may not seem like a top priority. But in the San Joaquin Valley — where groundwater supplies have been declining for decades — excess pumping is a critical problem, with major implications for public health, jobs, the environment and local economies.

The state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires groundwater planning and actions to sustain this vital resource. Agencies from California’s 21 “critically overdrafted” basins — including 11 large basins that span most of the San Joaquin Valley floor — submitted their first groundwater plans in January.

Vallecitos Water District Employs Technology to Decrease TSS, pH and Algal Blooms

Vallecitos Water District provides 5.25 million gallons of recycled water for irrigation every day. To fulfill the demands of modern irrigation systems, it is important to maintain low TSS levels. This is a challenge during the warm months in California, as algae that occur with raising temperatures, increase the level of TSS and clog the filters that are meant to remove TSS before the distribution of water to the irrigation systems.

Vallecitos Water District is known for its’ sustainable and innovative focus when it comes to water and wastewater treatment.

FPUD Board Tours Conjunctive Use Project Sites

The five Fallbrook Public Utility District board members were given a tour of FPUD’s Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project sites May 29.

Because a majority of the FPUD board members were present, it was legally required to be a noticed public hearing and the tour was officially a special meeting of the FPUD board. Although members of the public were welcome to attend they would have been required to remain in their own cars or trucks due to the coronavirus quarantine, but they would have been able to hear the audio communications.

Rainbow Approves Application to LAFCO to Annex Meadowood

The April meeting of the Rainbow Municipal Water District board included an out-of-agency service agreement for Rainbow to serve Pardee Homes’ Meadowood development, which is currently within the boundaries of the Valley Center Municipal Water District. The May 26 Rainbow board meeting included a 4-0 vote, with Helene Brazier not able to participate in the meeting, to submit an application to annex the Meadowood area.

The motion directed Rainbow general manager Tom Kennedy to prepare and submit an application to San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission to annex the Meadowood land. The April 28 action included direction to district staff to prepare an application to LAFCO, and a preliminary application was presented to the board for the May 26 meeting.