Frequently Asked Questions

Alternative Intake Project Overview FAQ

1. What is the Alternative Intake Project?

2. Why is the Alternative Intake Project necessary now?

3. How will CCWD’s customers benefit from the project?

4. Will the amount of water CCWD diverts from the Delta change?

5. Will any of the District’s existing intakes be abandoned if the project is constructed?

6. What is the project timeline?

7. How will the project be funded?

8. What other steps is the District taking to protect and improve water quality for its customers?

Alternative Intake Project EIR/EIS FAQs

1. What alternatives were considered?

2. Will the project affect other Delta water users?

3. Will the project protect Delta fisheries?

4. How will the project affect agriculture in the Delta?

5. How will the project ensure the levees on Victoria Island are protected?

6. Will the project affect Delta recreation?

Alternative Intake Project Overview FAQ

1. What is the Alternative Intake Project?

The Alternative Intake Project (project) will locate a new intake at Victoria Canal allowing CCWD to divert higher quality water at certain times of the year. The intake will give CCWD flexibility in the timing and location of pumping which will provide a benefit to Delta fisheries, including Delta Smelt. The new intake will provide water quality benefits to CCWD by changing the location and timing of diversions, but will not increase total diversions.

CCWD and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) released the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIR/EIS) in May 2006 and the Final EIR/EIS in October 2006. As detailed in the EIR/EIS, the project will consist of constructing and operating a new, screened water intake (with a maximum capacity of 250 cubic-feet-per-second [cfs]) and pump station located along the lower third of Victoria Canal on Victoria Island in the central Delta. A buried pipeline will be constructed from the new intake across Victoria Island and Old River and tie into CCWD’s existing conveyance system on Byron Tract. Overall, the project will help the District continue to provide high quality water for its customers and meet increasingly stringent drinking water quality standards.

2. Why is the Alternative Intake Project necessary now?

The quality of water in the Delta, the District’s sole source of water, continues to deteriorate despite efforts to improve it. The Delta is an area of competing interests, serving as: a drinking water source to two-thirds of the state’s residents; an agricultural irrigation supply; a habitat for fisheries and other wildlife; and a recreation area.

CCWD has been actively working to improve Delta water quality through CALFED (a consortium of state and federal agencies working to improve the Delta) and other arenas for many years. CCWD’s efforts have included: seeking new water quality objectives for the Delta; providing input on wastewater, stormwater, and other projects that may impact Delta water; collaborating with Delta researchers to better understand the Delta system; and working with the agricultural community to reduce pollutant loads to Delta tributaries.

Despite these efforts, water quality at CCWD intakes has degraded and is particularly poor in the fall. Since the late 1980s, the average salinity concentrations at CCWD’s intakes have steadily increased. The state is projected to have an additional 12 million people by 2030, with a large percentage projected to live in the Central Valley , and this statewide growth will continue to make problems worse. CCWD must take steps now to ensure its customers are protected.

3. How will CCWD’s customers benefit from the project?

Along with providing benefits to Delta fisheries, the project will provide several benefits for CCWD customers. The project will:

Improve drinking water quality, especially during drought periods. The project will help ensure CCWD’s customers have high quality water, particularly during late summer and fall months and during dry periods, when Delta source water quality is typically lowest.
Protect and Improve Health Benefits to CCWD customers. The project will ensure CCWD continues to consistently meet or exceed current and future drinking water quality standards.
Protect CCWD customers’ investment in Los Vaqueros Reservoir. The project will help deliver high quality water and maintain the benefits of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir by enabling CCWD to extend the time periods during which Delta water of high quality is available for 1) filling Los Vaqueros Reservoir and 2) direct use without the need for blending with higher-quality water from Los Vaqueros Reservoir.
Protect Drinking Water Quality during emergencies. The project will help CCWD protect water quality during emergencies such as Delta levee failures by both providing an alternative intake location that could help CCWD avoid areas of the Delta affected by an emergency and by helping maintain Los Vaqueros at consistently higher storage levels.

4. Will the amount of water CCWD diverts from the Delta change?

No. The project will use the District’s existing water supply and will not divert additional water out of the Delta; it will simply allow the District to shift the location and timing of pumping between the existing and new intakes based on water quality. CCWD will not seek to increase its water rights, contract amounts, or reservoir filling rates through this project.

5. Will any of the District’s existing intakes be abandoned if the project is constructed?

No. All three of CCWD’s existing intakes will remain in use, serving as important parts of CCWD’s water supply system. The addition of the proposed intake on Victoria Canal would provide CCWD with the flexibility to divert water for conveyance to the Los Vaqueros Reservoir and the Contra Costa Canal using the existing Old River Intake or the new Victoria Canal intake. Rock Slough would continue to provide a portion of CCWD’s water supply but would be used less frequently because of the operational flexibility provided by a new intake with better water quality. Mallard Slough intake would continue to provide a small portion of CCWD’s water supply in a manner similar to its current operations.

6. What is the project timeline?

The project was initiated in July 2004 with a two-year planning phase that included an environmental analysis to comply with federal and state requirements (NEPA and CEQA). CCWD and Reclamation released the Draft EIR/EIS in May 2006 and the Final EIR/EIS in October 2006. In November 2006, the CCWD Board of Directors approved the project and certified the EIR. The project is currently in the design and permitting phase. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2008 and the project could be online as early as 2010.

7. How will the project be funded?

The total project cost, including planning, design and construction, is estimated at $100 million. Funding for the project will come from a combination of resources, including a local state and federal cost share. State funding for the Alternative Intake Project is included in the recently approved Proposition 84, which provides $5.4 billion for water resources projects, including up to $130 million for Delta drinking water quality improvement projects to protect drinking water supplies. The Alternative Intake Project is part of a package of Delta inprovements to ensure high quality, sustainable water supplies for residents and businesses that rely on the Delta. State funding will help these efforts to provide comprehensive solutions for the future of the Delta.

8. What other steps is the District taking to protect and improve water quality for its customers?

CCWD is using a multi-pronged approach to protect and improve water quality for its customers including: reducing impacts of Delta agricultural drainage on source water quality; participating in collaborative research on advanced water treatment; and supporting regulatory and legislative initiatives for improving drinking water quality and source water protection.

Alternative Intake Project EIR/EIS FAQs

1. What alternatives were considered?

CCWD evaluated a wide range of alternatives to meet the project purpose of protecting and improving water quality for all CCWD customers. The Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) Appendix B Alternatives Analysis describes the alternatives considered and the screening criteria. The analysis included alternatives that might improve water quality at existing intakes, alternatives that would involve obtaining new sources of water, and alternatives that would enhance existing water treatment. Ultimately, an intake in the lower third of Victoria Canal was selected because, when all screening criteria were considered, it was the most practicable, least costly, and least environmentally damaging alternative that provided the greatest water quality benefits to District customers.

The EIR/EIS analyzed the four best alternatives, including the Alternative Intake Project and in addition to a No-Action alternative. Those alternatives are:

A No-Action Alternative (consistent with requirements of CEQA and NEPA);
Alternative 1: Proposed Action (Alternative Intake Project), a new intake structure and pipeline on Victoria Island and connect to the CCWD Old River Pump Station;
Alternative 2: Indirect Route, the proposed action with an alternative pipeline routing across Victoria Island ;
Alternative 3: Modified Operations, the same as Alternatives 1 and 2 except for an operation scenario intended to shift some of the existing pumping from the unscreened Rock Slough Intake to screened intakes; this will achieve added fisheries benefits; and
Alternative 4: Desalination Alternative, adding a desalination plant to the District’s treated water system.
Alternative 3 was approved by CCWD’s Board of Directors on November 15, 2006.

2. Will the project affect other Delta water users?

No. The project will use the District’s existing water supply and will not divert additional water out of the Delta; it will allow the District to shift the location and timing of pumping between the existing and new intakes based on water quality. The EIR/EIS used worst-case assumptions to evaluate any potential changes to Delta water resources resulting from the project. Even with these assumptions, there are no impacts to Delta supplies, water quality, or water levels, even during droughts.

3. Will the project protect Delta fisheries?

Yes. CCWD recognizes the Delta is a valuable environmental resource that supports several important and threatened fish species. The Project will include a state-of-the-art fish screen similar in design to the highly successful screen at the CCWD Old River Intake. Furthermore, the shifts in the timing and location of pumping and increased operational flexibility that result from the Alternative Intake Project provide a benefit to Delta fisheries, including Delta Smelt.

4. How will the project affect agriculture in the Delta?

CCWD is working closely with the affected landowner at the proposed project location and evaluating different pipeline routes and designs to cost-effectively minimize the temporary disruption to agricultural operation on Victoria Island during construction.

The pipeline will be buried, so the only permanent project impact to agriculture is the conversion of a small amount of agricultural land at the site of the new intake and pump station facility. CCWD is working with the landowner to maintain agricultural productivity on the fields bordering the intake site.

5. How will the project ensure the levees on Victoria Island are protected?

During construction of the project, Victoria Island levees will be protected and substantially improved in the project area to ensure that the project does not increase the risk of flooding in the area.

CCWD will work closely with local reclamation districts to ensure that all project facilities are designed to protect levee integrity during and after construction. No work will be performed on the existing levees until a protective setback levee is constructed. CCWD’s Old River Pump Station on Byron Tract was successfully built into the existing levee using similar techniques and has had no levee stability concerns.

6. Will the project affect Delta recreation?

No. The project will not impact Delta recreation over the long-term though there may be some short-term construction impacts in Victoria Canal . To ensure impacts are minimized, the project intake design will be similar to the existing Old River Pump Station, with the face of the intake flush with the bank, ensuring it will not interfere with recreation on Victoria Canal.

Who can I contact for more information?

Tegan Ashton
Project Manager
(925) 455-8555
alternativw@ccwater.com