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About 30 percent of the water that flows out of taps in Southern California comes from Northern California via the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But the Delta's delivery system is badly outdated, a problem compounded both by a declining ecosystem and 1,100-mile levee system that are increasingly vulnerable. California WaterFix is a comprehensive solution proposed by state and federal agencies to ensure our state has a reliable water supply for many years to come. It would modernize the decades-old delivery system through the building of three new intakes in the northern Delta along with two tunnels to carry water to the existing aqueduct system in the southern Delta.
The estimated cost of California WaterFix is about $17 billion, with Southern California’s share about a quarter of that. But the cost of doing nothing would be greater as the reliability of the state’s single largest water supply, the Sierra snowpack, would remain in jeopardy.
On October 10, 2017 Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors voted to support California WaterFix.
The Delta water system is outdated and unreliable. The system relies on levees that are vulnerable to earthquakes, floods and rising sea levels under climate change. And when these levees fail, water rushes into the lower-than-sea level islands behind them, pulling in salt water from the bay and fouling water quality before it can be delivered to Southern California, the Bay Area and Central Valley farmland. In addition, powerful existing state and federal pumps are strong enough to cause rivers to flow in reverse. This traps migrating and endangered fish, leading to declines in native fish populations.
The Big One
New tunnel pipelines are a safeguard against a major earthquake collapsing Delta levees, which could shut off water deliveries to 25 million people, farms and businesses.
Nearly all water stored in Southern California for drought and emergency needs comes from Northern California or the Colorado River.
This is Southern California’s largest local water source and is mainly replenished by imported supplies from Northern California.
A modernized system could capture enough water to refill reservoirs after big Sierra storms, providing flexibility and reducing conflicts with fish such as salmon.
More Local Supplies
Sierra snowmelt is pure enough to recycle again and again in Southern California, promoting more recycling projects in the region’s future.
"This project has been subjected to 10 years of detailed analysis and more environmental review than any other project in the history of the world. It is absolutely essential if California is to maintain a reliable water supply."
- Gov. Jerry Brown
The California WaterFix proposes construction of three new water intakes located farther away from endangered species habitats. Two 40-foot wide tunnels located about 150 feet below ground would carry diverted water by gravity under the Delta to pumping facilities south of the estuary.
Water would be lifted into canals that flow several hundred miles through the state and as far south as San Diego. Learn more about the proposal in the videos below or from additional videos here.
Near the end of 2016, the final environmental analysis for the California WaterFix project was published, representing a decade of scientific study, analysis and public input. The next milestone in the decision-making process was the release of biological opinions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service on June 26, which showed the project’s effects on endangered species. This opinion will be followed by the release of the federal Record of Decision and the state’s Notice of Decision, which would allow the project to proceed.
Metropolitan’s Board of Directors held a series of public meetings to review different components of California WaterFix including the physical project, the proposed water operations and key financial issues. Each of the workshops discussed detailed white papers (links below). A special board meeting held September 26, 2017 distributed a Questions and Answers document. A listing of letters and resolutions submitted to Metropolitan can be found here.
October 10, 2017:
Metropolitan’s board approved the district’s 26 percent share of California WaterFix financing as well as moving forward on a governance structure to build and finance the $17 billion project. Metropolitan’s share is about $4.3 billion.
Visit our toolkit to watch more videos, read and download fact sheets, get photos, maps and graphics and find all the resources and information you need to understand and share information about California WaterFix.