Bay Area Council Blog: Storm & Flood Protection Archive

JBL State Water Board Meeting 2

Proposed Water Cuts Could Be Devastating for Bay Area

The Bay Area Council voiced strong concerns at a State Water Resources Board hearing Tuesday (Jan. 3) on proposed changes to how water is allocated for urban, agricultural and environmental uses that could mean 50 percent cuts for 2.6 million of our region’s residential and commercial users. The Council said in testimony that the proposed changes could be devastating for a region that generates a huge portion of the state’s economic activity and that already has the lowest per capita water use rates in the state. The changes would take a disproportionate share of water that the Bay Area receives from the Tuolumne River to increase flows for native salmon and other aquatic species. About 48 percent of the Tuolumne river is diverted for agriculture in the Central Valley and 38 percent is left for the environment. Just 14 percent of the river is diverted for the Bay Area, but that 14 percent accounts for 85 percent of San Francisco’s drinking water and 55 percent of the drinking water used overall in Silicon Valley and by the Alameda County Water Agency. The Council is urging the state to take whatever measures necessary to make up the cuts through voluntary settlements, or purchases, among existing water rights holders that would pose less threat to our region’s water reliability. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.

(Photo: Modesto Bee)

Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Expected To Increase 11 Percent From 2009

Council Doubling Down on Solving Regional Commute Mess

The Bay Area Council just loves a good challenge, and there is perhaps no bigger challenge for the region than bringing some relief to the congested mess that is our transportation system. The Council’s Executive Committee, meeting at member company Facebook in Menlo Park, on Thursday endorsed a 2017 policy platform that will direct significantly more time, energy and resources to finding and implementing both short-term and longer-term solutions to the region’s grinding traffic and overwhelmed mass transit systems. The Executive Committee under the leadership of Chair Michael Covarrubias of TMG Partners also renewed the Council’s priority policy areas from 2016 that include expanding housing, closing the workforce skills gap and securing the region’s long-term water supply in the face of continuing drought and increased competition among urban, environmental and agricultural interests.

The message was clear, however, that the highest priority must be on fixing the region’s dysfunctional commute, which ranks among the worst in the country and threatens to undermine the Bay Area’s economic success. Michael Matthews, Director of California Public Policy for Facebook, emphasized the importance of commute improvement in his remarks welcoming the Council to the social media giant’s campus, saying it is a key issue for the company along with housing (just today, Facebook announced a $20 million commitment to help local nonprofit housing and rental assistance programs).

Longer commutes, slower traffic and congested mass transit are choking the region’s economic productivity and putting us at growing competitive disadvantage with other states and regions. The Council has already begun laying the groundwork for a bold and aggressive regional transportation improvement vision that will be unveiled in the coming months. In addition, the Council will be exploring new technologies that can help manage the demand side of the transportation equation, promoting the development of autonomous vehicles and continuing our work to increase the use of private commuter shuttles. Expanding public and private water transportation services will figure prominently, and builds on great progress the Council has already made to increase public ferry service around the entire bay and promote fast-emerging private water taxi services.

Housing, of course, is another area on which the Council will continue to put heavy focus. Our leadership and advocacy this year helped win passage of the only significant housing bill in Sacramento – SB 1069 to expand accessory dwelling units (also known as in-law units) — and elevate the housing issue among elected leaders who as a result are now pointing to 2017 as the year of housing. The Council also backed affordable housing measures in Santa Clara and Alameda counties that both passed last month.  Stay tuned for further details on planning for our work on housing, transportation, workforce and water policy. 2017 is going to be a big year.

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Major Win for Council’s Transformative Water Data Bill

Legislation the Bay Area Council is sponsoring to revolutionize how California uses data technology to better manage the state’s water system is headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for his signature. After months of intense advocacy by the Council in support of AB 1755, the state Assembly on Thursday (Aug. 26) approved The Open and Transparent Water Data Act authored by Assemblymember Bill Dodd of Napa.

With the Governor’s signature, AB 1755 would enable the Department of Water Resources to take a wealth of disparate and disconnected data about the state’s water and put it all in one place online. Such an online platform is a vital step towards building a functioning water transfer market across California that can help improve conservation efforts and allow water agencies to more efficiently and effectively buy and sell water to meet local demands. We need your voice to tell the Governor to sign AB 1755. To add your name to a letter of support, please contact Policy Manager Rachele Trigueros at rtrigueros@bayareacouncil.org.

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Council Cheers Historic Regional Measure AA Win

Bay Area voters made history on Tuesday (June 7) by passing Measure AA, the region’s first ever nine-county ballot measure. The measure will raise $500 million over the next 20 years to clean, restore and protect the Bay and enhance its resilience against extreme storms and rising seas. The Yes-on-AA campaign demonstrated the awesome power of regional collaboration, as the coalition lead by the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Resources Legacy Fund and Save the Bay crossed the finish line with an impressive 69 percent margin.

Success would not have been possible without the leadership of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the committed support of many Bay Area Council members, including PG&E, Facebook, TMG Partners, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, Google, Kaiser Permanente, Hanson Bridgett, Dignity Health, Wells Fargo, AECOM, Recology and Dick and Barbara Rosenberg. Thanks also to San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine, chair of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, which will oversee the many important projects funded by Measure AA.

“Absolutely nothing is more important to us than keeping the public safe. Joining efforts like this will protect our communities and enable PG&E to continue to provide the reliable service our customers count on to power their lives. We are a company with a strong and enduring commitment to the environment and combating climate change. It’s rooted in a commitment to our customers and to doing our work in a way that protects the vital species and habitats that call our service area home and that’s why we’re pleased to be joining this important effort.” Tony Earley, PG&E Chairman and CEO; Member, Bay Area Council Executive Committee 

“This was a tremendous multi-year team effort by business leaders, politicians, non-profits, environmental groups and media. A very satisfying victory, and the big winner is our San Francisco Bay. Thanks to all!” Andy Ball, President & CEO, Suffolk Construction West Region; Member, California Water Commission; Co-Chair, Bay Area Council Water Committee

Read more reaction to the Measure AA victory>>

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Council, Strategic Partners Cheer Regional Measure AA Win

Bay Area voters made history on Tuesday by passing Measure AA, the region’s first ever nine-county ballot measure. The measure will raise $500 million over the next 20 years to clean, restore and protect the Bay and enhance its resilience against extreme storms and rising seas. The Yes-on-AA campaign demonstrated the awesome power of regional collaboration, as the coalition lead by the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Resources Legacy Fund and Save the Bay crossed the finish line with an impressive 69 percent margin.

Success would not have been possible without the leadership of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the committed support of many Bay Area Council members, including PG&E, Facebook, TMG Partners, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, Google, Kaiser Permanente, Hanson Bridgett, Dignity Health, Wells Fargo, AECOM, Recology and Dick and Barbara Rosenberg. Thanks also to San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine, chair of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, which will oversee the many important projects funded by Measure AA.

“Absolutely nothing is more important to us than keeping the public safe. Joining efforts like this will protect our communities and enable PG&E to continue to provide the reliable service our customers count on to power their lives. We are a company with a strong and enduring commitment to the environment and combating climate change. It’s rooted in a commitment to our customers and to doing our work in a way that protects the vital species and habitats that call our service area home and that’s why we’re pleased to be joining this important effort.” Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO and President, PG&E; Member, Bay Area Council Executive Committee

“This was a tremendous multi-year team effort by business leaders, politicians, non-profits, environmental groups and media. A very satisfying victory, and the big winner is our San Francisco Bay. Thanks to all!” Andy Ball, President & CEO, Suffolk Construction West Region; Member, California Water Commission; Co-Chair, Bay Area Council Water Committee

“Measure AA provides critical funding to clean and restore San Francisco Bay, protecting and enhancing this irreplaceable and invaluable natural asset for generations to come. We were honored to partner with the Bay Area Council and other groups to pass Measure AA and continue a legacy of environmental stewardship.” Michael Mantell, President, Resources Legacy Fund

“The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors has long understood the need for the protection of Silicon Valley from tidal flooding. Our $1.5 million dollar investment in placing Measure AA on the ballot was to ensure that we continue to step up to protect Silicon Valley from the significant economic damage that would result from a tidal flood and cripple the region. Obviously, the voters agreed that tidal flood protection and restoration is something they should also invest in. On behalf of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, I want to congratulate the voters and all whom made this possible.” John Varela, Vice Chair, Santa Clara Valley Water District

“Facebook appreciates the Bay Area Council’s great work in leading the charge to pass this very important measure.” Juan Salazar, Public Policy Manager, Facebook

“Hanson Bridgett was proud to support Measure AA because it provides much needed funding to preserve our most precious asset, the Bay, while at the same time taking important measures to guard against the impact of climate change. That kind of long term thinking and acting is critical to making sure our region continues to thrive. The measure was also an important precedent for taking regional action at the ballot box for important projects that would not happen if we did not come together as a region.” Andrew Giacomini, Partner, Hanson Bridgett; Member, Bay Area Council Executive Committee

“Climate change represents perhaps the greatest challenge to human health and well-being that humanity has ever faced. Increasingly we must take practical steps toward managing many inevitable impacts. The Bay Area has now recognized the imperative of preparing for rising ocean levels.” Lloyd Dean, President & CEO, Dignity Health; Member, Bay Area Council Executive Committee

“As San Francisco’s hometown community bank since 1852, we were proud to support the campaign to protect and restore the bay. The Bay Area proved that when we come together, we can accomplish a lot.” Jim Foley, EVP and President, Pacific North Region, Wells Fargo Community Banking

“Recology was proud to stand with the Bay Area Council, to support and restore the San Francisco Bay.” Mike Sangiacomo, President & CEO, Recology; Member, Bay Area Council Board of Directors

A brief history of Measure AA
Measure AA was decades in the making. Prior to the Gold Rush, the San Francisco Bay had about 250,000 acres of thriving wetland habitat. By the 1960s, barely 20,000 acres survived. Then in 1966, with the support of the Bay Area Council, Governor Ronald Reagan signed legislation creating the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) to halt the rampant destruction of Bay wetlands. In 1999, the San Francisco Estuary Institute released its landmark Baylands Goals report, detailing how the Bay needed 100,000 acres of wetlands to improve water quality and habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife. In 2003, Senator Dianne Feinstein negotiated the transfer of about 15,000 acres of salt ponds from Cargill for future wetland restoration.

In 2009, the California legislature created the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, a special regional body tasked with raising local funds to restore the former Cargill Salt Ponds and other restoration opportunities across the nine county region. Meanwhile, mega storms in New Orleans and the Atlantic Coast highlighted the dangers of extreme storms and sea level rise, and the ability of green infrastructure, such as wetlands, to provide cost-effective flood defenses. These storms prompted a 2015 Bay Area Council Economic Institute study, Surviving the Storm, which estimated the region could suffer over $10 billion in economic damages during a 150-year storm event. The passage of Measure AA means millions will now be available to actively invest in and improve the health and security of the Bay shoreline for people and wildlife in all nine Bay Area counties.

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Council Leads High-Level Executive Delegation to D.C.

The Bay Area Council this week (May 24-26) led a high-level business delegation to Washington, D.C. for meetings with top White House and legislative leaders on a range of critical issues, including water, transportation, housing, trade and healthcare. The delegation, led by Council Chair Michael Covarrubias of TMG Partners and Government Relations Committee Co-Chairs Andrew Giacomini of Hanson Bridgett and Peter Brightbill of Wells Fargo, met with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Energy Sec. Ernest Moniz and Leader Nancy Pelosi, among others.

Senator Feinstein was thrilled to hear Bay Area Council is advocating for a second southern crossing across the Bay and was interested in the Water Committee’s request to include language in her drought bill to streamline federal regulatory approvals. Delegates got a briefing from White House and Health and Human Services officials on President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative. The meetings with Leader Pelosi centered on the Bay Area’s traffic and housing problems and the delegation updated her on the Council’s support of legislation to ease barriers for creating second living units and fast tracking approval of affordable housing developments.

At a dinner generously hosted by the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center, delegates enjoyed speaking with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and hearing from both Congressman Mark DeSaulnier and Congressman Honda about trade, water transportation, and the current political landscape. In meetings with Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez, Chair Covarrubias and Transportation Committee Co-Chair Jeff Heller of Heller Manus talked about the dire need for increased transportation investment and briefed Mendez on the Council’s work to expand regional ferry service. The Council looks forward to participating in a follow up meeting with DOT and a transportation strategy task force team of long term transportation planners for Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose.

To end the trip, delegates sat down with Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Department of Energy Officials to discuss next week’s 7th Clean Energy Ministerial hosted in partnership with the Bay Area Council. Secretary Moniz and DOE thanked the Bay Area Council for their work organizing this major event and were very excited to use this event to empower citizens and businesses to sustain and enhance quality of life while forwarding clean energy goals.

The Council extends its deepest thanks to major trip sponsors Intel, Oracle, Microsoft, and DLA Piper. To engage in our federal policy work, please contact Senior Advisor George Broder.

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Council Prepares to Host World’s Top Energy Ministers

The Bay Area Council this week was in the final stages of preparations for welcoming 23 of the world’s top energy ministers, including U.S. Energy Sec. Ernest Moniz, to San Francisco on June 1-2 as they meet to begin working on implementation of the Paris climate agreement. The Clean Energy Ministerial marks the first direct follow up meeting since the COP21 agreement. The Council is working with the U.S. Department of Energy to organize the conference. The selection of the Bay Area for this important convening highlights the region’s global leadership in developing the science, innovation and technologies that will help the world achieve the ambitious climate change goals in COP21. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Gov. Jerry Brown are scheduled to participate. Learn more about CEM7>>

water recycling

Council Unveils New Regional Water Supply Prioritization

The Bay Area Council today (May 5) released a first-of-its-kind prioritization of regional water infrastructure projects that, if completed, could produce up to 250,000 acre-feet of new water each year, enough to serve or offset the use of an estimated 3.6 million new Bay Area residents, or approximately 1.25 million new Bay Area households.[1] The Bay Area’s 11 major water agencies project an estimated 2 million additional residents by 2035.[2]

The Regional Water Project Prioritization identifies 23 water supply projects around the Bay Area that would bring an additional 250,000 acre-feet of new water supply to the region. An acre-foot of water is enough to serve the annual water needs of about five Bay Area households.

The Bay Area Council worked with the region’s 11 major water agencies over the past six months to create the ranking as part of a larger process to prepare the Bay Area for climate change and prioritize how the region pursues limited state and federal funding to pay for water infrastructure projects.

“If everything’s a priority, nothing’s a priority” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The region needs to focus on using our limited resources to create new water, maximize the water we currently have, and protect vital bay infrastructure. The mercury is rising, so too are sea levels and the cost of inaction. We hope these projects will help kick-start a regional conversation about how we prioritize and fund our future water needs.”

The projects include 18 water recycling production-and-conveyance projects; three brackish desalination facilities; two reservoir expansions; and a state-of-the-art storm forecasting system. In total, the water supply projects would cost $2.37 billion.

“The rain doesn’t stop at water agency jurisdictions” said Jerry Brown, General Manager of the Contra Costa Water Agency. “That’s why the Bay Area’s water agencies are looking to regional planning efforts like this to prepare the region for climate change and to improve our drought resiliency. I applaud the Bay Area Council for helping launch that discussion.”

The prioritization also includes four flood protection projects totaling $1.23 billion to defend critical bayside infrastructure from sea level rise and extreme-weather-related flooding. According to the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s 2015 report, Surviving the Storm, a 150-year storm event could cost the entire region greater than $10 billion in economic damages, about the same as the Loma Prieta Earthquake. Flooding would be most acute in Santa Clara County, where major water and wastewater facilities are located along the bay shoreline. At SFO, flight delays and cancellations would result an estimated $164 million in lost economic productivity.

Approximately 66 percent of the Bay Area’s freshwater originates as Sierra Nevada snowpack, which the California Department of Water Resources estimates will decline by at least 25 percent by 2050.[3] However, the Bay Area’s 11 major water agencies project an additional 2 million residents by 2035.

The Council’s priorities are being announced as Bay Area water agencies begin the development of the Bay Area Regional Reliability Drought Contingency Plan (the BARR DC Plan). The BARR DC Plan is a joint effort by eight Bay Area water agencies collectively serving more than 6 million people in seven counties, and bringing a regional approach to enhancing water supply reliability, leveraging existing infrastructure investments, facilitating water transfers during critical shortages, and improving climate change resiliency. The BARR DC Plan is funded by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and will culminate in a report to be finalized in early 2017.


[1] Calculated from State Water Resources Control Board estimate of per-capita Bay Area water use between March 2014-2015, and ABAG regional population estimate (7 million). Assumes 2.87 individuals per household (Source: Department of Water Resources. “California Single Family Water Use Efficiency Study”, June, 2011. Table 96, pg. 251).

[2] 2013 Bay Area Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, Figure 2-18

[3] State of California. Department of Water Resources. Climate Change Impacts on California’s Water. Fall 2008.

 

chron delta photo

Council Readies Ambitious Water Plan

El Nino has come and gone, but it hasn’t quenched California’s thirst for robust debate over how to manage our water resources. And the Bay Area Council, whose Executive Committee under the leadership of Chair Michael Covarrubias of TMG Partners made water one of our top policy issues, is working to influence the outcome. The debate was roused this week when Sen. Dianne Feinstein sent an open letter to President Obama requesting that he direct federal agencies to “maximize pumping in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the maximum extent allowed under the Endangered Species Act.” Feinstein noted that while El Nino tripled the amount of water flowing through the Delta, the volume being pumped for various uses increased only a fraction. Still, the letter touched off a response from environmentalists and several Congressional legislators who argue that keeping current restrictions in place are important for helping endangered fish species recover from years of drought.

The Council’s Water Committee under the leadership of Co-Chairs Jim Levine of Montezuma Wetlands and Andy Ball of Suffolk Construction and California Water Commission member, is currently focused on developing an ambitious plan that would balance competing demands on the state’s water. Levine presented his plan to the Council’s Executive Committee on Thursday (March 24) and for the past several months has been meeting with high-level public and private sector stakeholders to get their input. The plan take a diverse portfolio approach that combines ambitious environmental restoration and water-for-fish targets, across-the-board conservation goals and major new investments in storage, conveyance and recycling infrastructure. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, please contact Policy Director Adrian Covert.

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Water Transit Agency Unveils New Emergency Response Plan

When the Loma Prieta earthquake knocked out the Bay Bridge in 1989, ferries motored to the rescue. As the Bay Area’s designated agency in charge of coordinating all water transit response in times of catastrophe, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), also known as SF Bay Ferry, responded. The 6,800 passengers that left their cars behind to travel by ferry during the peak commute was equivalent to the number that would occupy three lanes of the Oakland-SF span during a full hour. Highlighting the vital role that ferries play in keeping the region’s transportation system and economy moving during disasters, the WETA Board on Tuesday (March 8) adopted an updated emergency response plan that also outlines how ferries will help in the immediate aftermath by transporting rescue workers and helping move the injured.

“Ferries will provide vital transportation for first responders, disaster service workers and survivors after a regional seismic event,” said Nina Rannells, executive director of WETA. “The adoption of an update to WETA’s Emergency Response Plan marks an important step forward in defining WETA’s role in response to a regional disaster and identifies action items that WETA can and will act on now in anticipation of a regional emergency.”

Expanding water transit service is among the Bay Area Council’s lead policy priorities and we are working closely with WETA to support its plans for adding capacity between the East Bay and San Francisco and creating new connections to Silicon Valley and the South Bay. Those additional connections would prove valuable in further expanding the role of ferries in times of emergency. To engage in our water transit policy work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.

Read WETA’s Emergency Response Plan>>