Water news was flowing this week as the Bay Area Council hit back at a new attempt to raze Hetch Hetchy reservoir, applauded funding for increased water storage projects and advocated against proposed state cutbacks that could cripple housing production.
First up, the Council responded to a recent meeting that a fringe group seeking to tear down the Bay Area’s Hetch Hetchy clean water and power system held with U.S. Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke as they sought to enlist his support for their wild scheme. The Council for decades has been a leading advocate for protecting Hetch Hetchy, which provides clean, reliable water and carbon-free energy to 2.6 million Bay Area residents and businesses. The Council led the opposition campaign against a 2012 San Francisco ballot measure by the same group that was aimed at draining and replacing Hetch Hetchy. Voters soundly rejected the measure by 77 percent. A state appeals court also recently rejected a lawsuit by the group to dismantle the Hetch Hetchy water and power system.
Next up, the Council applauded a decision by the California Water Commission on Tuesday (July 24) to an award $2.5 billion to eight water storage projects across California, including nearly $1 billion for two major projects in the Bay Area. The funding came from Proposition 1, a Bay Area Council-backed water bond approved by voters in November 2014.
The Commission approved $485 million for the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Pacheco Reservoir Project, a new 319-foot-tall dam Santa Clara County, and $459 million for the Contra Costa Water District to raise Los Vaqueros reservoir by 55 feet. Combined, the two projects would add a total of 255,000 acre-feet of new water for Bay Area residents and businesses. An acre-foot is roughly equal to the amount of water an average household uses in one year. The Sites Reservoir, another project the Council supported, got $816 million. The Council’s Water Committee had identified all three projects as top priority for regional water security.
And finally, the Council is continuing its advocacy against regulations the State Water Resources Control Board is considering that would severely reduce water supplies for 2.6 million Bay Area residents and cripple the region’s ability to build housing. An analysis by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute estimates that the cuts proposed by the state water board could provoke a wave of building moratoria across much of San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Alameda counties.
To learn more about the Bay Area Council Water Committee, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.