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Water wholesaler weighs California WaterFix involvement

Board to vote whether to give nod of support on March 16

A recent Zone 7 Water Agency study showed the local water wholesaler will be dependent on importing water to the region for the foreseeable future and emphasized the need for a renovated water delivery system.

The Zone 7 Water Agency's water supply evaluation study, which is updated every five years, showed 80% of the agency's water supply is obtained through infrastructure that stretches from the Sierra, through the Delta and to the Tri-Valley. However, that water is sent through "aging, vulnerable, non-ecofriendly facilities in the Delta," according to the study.

Zone 7 officials are eying a statewide water infrastructure project called the California WaterFix, which would create large underground pipes to transport water from the Sierra snowpack to municipalities involved with the State Water Project. Zone 7 sells water wholesale to several water providers in the Tri-Valley, including the Dublin San Ramon Services District.

At the agency's board meeting last month, board members debated whether the agency should get behind the California WaterFix. A resolution is set to go to a board vote at the next public meeting this month, and while an affirmative vote wouldn't put the agency on the hook for any more money yet, it would symbolize that Zone 7 is in favor of the project.

"You haven't put your money yet," Zone 7 general manager Jill Duerig told board members at the Feb. 17 meeting. "But you're taking a stance."

Zone 7 staff said California WaterFix environmental documents and initial design were $240 million total, and Zone 7 paid about $2.4 million of that. Construction for the project is expected to cost $15 billion over a decade, paid by multiple agencies.

A separate vote would go before the board before the agency agreed to pay for additional costs associated with the project.

Board member Dick Quigley said new infrastructure promised by the California WaterFix would improve the agency's water. Currently, water received by the State Water Project flows through above-ground canals at points, which dirties the water more along the way.

Board members are set to decide whether to give their symbolic OK to the project at the next board meeting, and some board members emphasized they wanted to hear what the public thought before they voted.

"I think the public buy-in is going to be critical," said board member Angela Ramirez Holmes.

The Zone 7 Water Agency board will meet at 7 p.m. March 16 at agency offices, 100 North Canyons Parkway in Livermore.

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