Taking a "critical step" toward becoming a regional water source, Bay Area jurisdictions overseeing the future expansion of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir filed the necessary agreements to form a joint powers authority (JPA) earlier this month.
Project leaders said in a statement that "transforming a local reservoir into a regional facility requires partnerships," and creating a JPA is "a critical step in forming this partnership."
Partnering agencies including Zone 7 Water Agency, East Bay Municipal Utility District and the Santa Clara Valley Water District will manage the project using organizational framework for design, construction, operation, maintenance and funding, as outlined by the JPA.
Built in 1998, the off-stream reservoir's original capacity was 100,000 acre-feet until the first phase of expansion to hold 160,000 acre-feet of water was completed almost 10 years ago.
The ultimate goal is to expand the Los Vaqueros Reservoir to a new capacity of 275,000 acre-feet, as well as add new conveyance facilities that "will provide environmental, water supply reliability, operational flexibility, water quality and recreational benefits."
Zone 7 Board President Angela Ramirez Holmes said, "In addition to local storage, this regional partnership also has the benefit of emergency conveyance which is critical for when there are pumping restrictions in the Delta preventing Zone 7 from accessing State Water Project water. This alternative conveyance will increase the Tri-Valley water system's reliability."
John Coleman, director of Ward 2 for the East Bay Municipal Utility District and a Los Vaqueros JPA board member, called the future expansion "not only important for EBMUD, but for the Bay Area and the region as a whole."
"Along with efforts such as water conservation, water recycling, and supplemental supplies, EBMUD will continue to support mutually-beneficial regional reliability efforts to prepare for an uncertain future," Coleman said.
The partnership extends to Silicon Valley, where Valley Water Board Chair Tony Estremera said the agency is "proactively exploring ways to secure enough water to help all our communities in Santa Clara County weather droughts," and "looks forward to working with our JPA partners on this important project that could improve the reliability of our region's water supply."
The JPA's first public meeting will take place next month, when members "will bring perspectives from the agency or agencies they represent and work collaboratively to meet the needs of all agencies involved."
After securing the necessary permits, approvals and agreements, construction on the expansion project is scheduled to begin in winter 2023. A combination of funds including $470 million from Proposition 1 as well as federal and local partners will cover the project costs.
To learn more about the JPA, visit www.losvaquerosjpa.com.