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DWR Releases Draft Environmental Impact Report for Delta Conveyance Project

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The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) on July 27 released the Draft Environment Impact Report (Draft EIR) for the Delta Conveyance Project, marking an important step in evaluating a key strategy to adapt to a changing climate and provide clean, reliable water for future generations.

The release of the Draft EIR gives the public an opportunity to formally weigh in on a proposed infrastructure modernization project that has been significantly changed in response to public comment. The proposal follows Gov. Gavin Newsom’s direction in 2019 to downsize previous concepts for improving Delta conveyance.

“Two out of three Californians rely on the State Water Project for all or part of their water supply,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Modernizing this infrastructure is essential to adapting to a future that includes more frequent extremes of drought and flood, and greater water instability.”

If the project had been operational during the big storms in October and December of 2021, DWR could have captured and moved about 236,000 acre-feet of water. That is enough for about 2.5 million people for a year. If approved after completion of the environmental review process, the project will also help California manage through periods of severe drought like the one the state is experiencing now.

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Nemeth noted that the proposed project has been refined, redesigned and rerouted as a result of public input and the Governor’s 2019 direction.

“We took a fresh look at everything. Changing from two tunnels to one opened the door to many creative design and engineering innovations,” she said.

California faces a hotter and drier future with more frequent and extreme droughts and floods. Water captured from the Sierra Nevada snowpack will need to be managed and used more efficiently, requiring investments in water recycling, water storage and clean and sustainable groundwater basins.

The Delta Conveyance Project is intended to help ensure the State Water Project can capture, move, and store water by making the most of extreme storm events that are becoming more frequent with California’s changing climate.

The preliminary design of the proposed project and alternatives outlined in the Draft EIR reflect the work of the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA), a joint powers authority of local public water agencies participating in the project.

“We brought world class engineering and design creativity to the effort,” said DCA’s Executive Director Graham Bradner. “We sought input from the community to understand local effects and focused on ways to avoid or minimize issues related to noise, traffic, power, aesthetics, boating and waterways, land disturbance and the overall project footprint.”

The Draft EIR was prepared by DWR as the lead agency to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act by evaluating a range of alternatives to the proposed project and disclosing potential environmental effects of the proposed project and alternatives, and associated mitigation measures for potentially significant impacts. No decisions will be made on whether to approve the project until the conclusion of the environmental review process, after consideration of public comments submitted on the Draft EIR and issuances of a Final EIR. At that time, DWR will determine whether to approve the proposed project an alternative or no project.

Everyone is invited to visit the Draft EIR website to access the document and accompanying informational materials and learn more about the proposed project and the public review process, including public hearing details and commenting opportunities.

What: Public comment period for the Delta Conveyance Project Draft EIR

When: 90-day comment period from July 27, 2022 through October 27, 2022

Where: Review Online at www.deltaconveyanceproject.com

Review In-Person: A digital copy of the Draft EIR is available at the following locations:

  • DWR Office: 3500 Industrial Blvd., Room 117, West Sacramento, CA 95691
  • Libraries: A full list of libraries across the state where the public can access the Draft EIR can be found

How: Members of the public can submit comments on the Draft EIR in the following ways:

  • Email: deltaconveyancecomments@water.ca.gov
  • Online:deltaconveyanceproject.com
  • Mail: Department of Water Resources, Attn: Delta Conveyance Office, P.O. Box 942836, Sacramento, CA 94236-0001
  • Virtual Public Hearing: Provide verbal public comment at a virtual public hearing
    • Tuesday, September 13, 2022, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
    • Thursday, September 22, 2022, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
    • Wednesday, September 28, 2022, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

About the Delta Conveyance Project: The purpose of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project is to modernize the aging State Water Project (SWP) water transport infrastructure in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to protect the reliability of this important water supply. In pursuing this project, DWR seeks to address the effects of sea level rise and climate change, minimize water supply disruption caused by an earthquake and provide operational flexibility to improve aquatic conditions in the Delta. The proposed Delta Conveyance Project would modernize the infrastructure used to move water through the Delta by adding new facilities in the north Delta to divert water and convey it through a tunnel to the SWP distribution facilities in the southern Delta. If approved, these infrastructure updates would help ensure climate resiliency and improve the reliability of the SWP. As the state’s largest source of safe, affordable, and clean water, the SWP serves 27 million Californians, 750,000 acres of farmland, and supports local water supply projects, such as local storage, recycling, groundwater recharge and water quality management.

About the DCA: The Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA), is a Joint Powers Authority of local public water agencies participating in, and benefitting from, the Delta Conveyance Project. With oversight from DWR, the DCA is responsible for design, engineering and eventually, if approved, construction of the project.

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