The rains that began falling last fall and continued regularly through winter into spring have resulted in a Sierra snow pack at 107 percent of average levels and water storage in the Shasta Reservoir at 101 percent of average, CCWD Board Member Bette Boatmun told the Antioch City Council on March 23.
The CCWD board is expected to vote Wednesday, April 7 to replace the drought program, which was designed to reduce water usage by 15 percent, with a conservation program that encourages efficient use of water while not setting a specific reduction target. The program is expected to go into effect May 1.
CCWD’s 550,000 customers, including those in Antioch and Oakley, proved to be more than up to the drought program challenge. From May through February they reduced their water usage by 20 percent in comparison with 2005-07. They were perhaps motivated by the drought program’s penalty; an excess use charge of four times the normal rate for those who used more water than in the past.
That penalty will be disappearing under the conservation program for about 95 percent of customers. But those using more than 1,000 gallons per day would still pay a penalty of twice the normal rate for the amount in excess of 1,000 gallons or their historical usage. Those are usually customers with a lot of water-hungry landscaping. To encourage conservation, CCWD provides free water audits that check your house for leaks and advise on ways to reduce outdoor irrigation.
Boatmun also discussed CCWD’s Alternative Intake Project on Victoria Island near Old River, which the district’s Web site touts as “the most significant Delta drinking water quality project to complete planning studies, design and begin construction in the past decade. (It’s) designed to help protect CCWD’s customers from seasonal fluctuations and long-term degradation of water quality in the Delta.”
The project, which began in 2004 and is scheduled for completion this year, includes a 250-cubic-foot-per-second pump station, a concrete intake structure with a fish screen similar to Old River Pump Station, a building to house electrical and control equipment, electrical substation and surge control tanks. It also includes the now-complete installation of approximately 12,000 feet of 72-inch pipe across Victoria Island with tunneling beneath Old River to the District’s Old River Pump Station, where it will be connected to existing conveyance facilities. “It will be a big improvement for us,” said Boatmun.
Other CCWD projects include replacement of portions of the Contra Costa Canal and installation of fish screens at the Rock Slough intake. In addition, the final environmental impact report has been released for the expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir from its current 100,000-acre-feet capacity to 160,000 or possibly 275,000 acre feet. The expansion would increase water supply reliability, particularly in dry years, improve water quality and provide an additional emergency water supply for the Bay Area.
The Final EIS/EIR is available at www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_projdetails.cfm?project_id=903.