The Tri-Valley area receives approximately 70% of its water through the Delta. State Water Project (SWP) water, carryover water, water banked in Kern County and transfer water all come through the Delta. Sites Reservoir Project water would also be conveyed through the Delta. The Delta as a conveyance system for water supply is threatened by various factors such as ecosystem considerations, seismic risk, and climate change/sea level rise. Key benefits of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project (DCP) to Zone 7 are related to the availability of alternative conveyance based on the new, single-tunnel option that could bypass the South Delta when it is unusable. The proposed DCP will also likely increase SWP reliability and improve water quality, but an alternate conveyance system for the majority of Zone 7’s water is the significant benefit. Zone 7 has been a participant in the DCP environmental planning process that began in 2021; the scope of the proposed work is limited to continued participation of the environmental work in 2023 and 2024.
DWR is in the process of completing the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that is considering a reasonable range of project alternatives that avoid or substantially reduce potentially significant impacts. DWR expects to release the draft EIR for public review in mid2022. Concurrently, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is conducting a federal environmental review and preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In June 2020, DWR submitted a Section 404 permit application identifying a 6,000 cfs project pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (Section 404 permit application) to the USACE. In November 2021, DWR amended the Section 404 permit application to identify the Bethany Alternative as the proposed project because it has the least impacts to wetlands and waters. Page 4 This does not represent a decision by DWR on whether to move forward with the project or selection of an Alternative. DWR will still evaluate the tunnel alignment options originally proposed and a reasonable range of potentially feasible alternatives, in addition to the proposed project and a no project alternative, at the same level of detail.
Continued participation by Zone 7 in the planning costs will allow Zone 7 to elect to participate in the DCP in the future based on information developed in the planning process, will allow access by Zone 7 to information related to benefits and costs, and will provide Zone 7 influence throughout the process.