Miller, Costa introduce legislation to secure more reliable water supply

Legislation would expedite expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir

WASHINGTON, DCIn response to California’s ongoing drought and the State’s immediate need for increased water storage capacity and long-term water solutions, U.S. Reps. George Miller (CA-11) and Jim Costa (CA-16) introduced new legislation today to expedite construction to expand the Los Vaqueros Reservoir, an existing State water storage project.

Expanding Los Vaqueros will improve water reliability across the state and create new opportunities for flexible operations within the federal Central Valley Project, and is an important part of a coordinated, state-wide effort to help California prepare for future dry years by securing a more reliable water supply.

“The devastating impacts of this drought throughout California highlight the critical need to increase water storage across the State. Expediting the expansion of Los Vaqueros is a complementary effort to increase water reliability, not just for the nearby region, but for the entire Central Valley Project,” said Miller and Costa.

“Without spending a single additional federal dollar, our bill will provide greater security within California’s fragile water system. This is a clear cut win-win that all Californians can get behind.”

Their bill, H.R. 4456 would:

  • Execute Water Storage Services Cooperative Agreements between willing water agencies, among them Contra Costa Water District (CCWD), and the Bureau of Reclamation that would expand an existing pilot program to lease excess storage capacity in non-federal reservoirs, including Los Vaqueros (LV), to the Bureau of Reclamation. This pilot would be a successful first step towards the expansion of LV from its current size of 160,000 ac/ft to the already permitted size of 275,000 ac/ft. Under these agreements, Los Vaqueros would provide replacement water supplies for drought relief for Central Valley Project contractors and federal, state and private wildlife refuges.
  • This long term commitment from Reclamation to utilize LV’s increased storage would allow for CCWD to secure local financing for further expansion of Los Vaqueros to 275,000 ac/ft.
  • The Expansion Project would consist of three phases:
    • Phase 1: Using existing facilities would provide up to 30,000 acre-feet of stored water available to move in the same year or subsequent years.  Water would be stored when available in surplus periods.  The water could be delivered to Central Valley Project (CVP) pumps at Tracy for Bay Area water agencies or refuge supplies through exchange.
    • Phase 2: Add pipeline from CCWD Los Vaqueros Reservoir system to Bethany Reservoir allowing direct delivery from the expanded Los Vaqueros Reservoir and CCWD’s Delta intakes to the CVP system for delivery to Bay Area water agencies or refuge supplies or other approved uses. Up to 30,000 acre-feet of stored water, plus up to an additional 30,000 acre-feet per year direct diversion when capacity is available.
    • Phase 3: Further expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir.  Up to 145,000 acre-feet of storage for the 275,000 acre-foot expansion (or 370,000 acre-feet for the 500,000 acre-foot expansion) available for new supplies plus additional capability for direct diversions through available capacity from CCWD facilities.