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September 2011

Metropolitan Supports Aggressive Schedule to Complete Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta

With state and federal leaders agreeing to an aggressive schedule, Metropolitan Water District's Board of Directors recently reaffirmed funding to complete the Bay Delta Conservation Plan as the path to identifying a comprehensive set of ecosystem and water system improvements for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

"It is essential to stay on track in order to take historic action in the Delta to meet California's co-equal goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration for this important estuary," said Metropolitan board Chairman John V. Foley after the Aug. 16 action. "We continue to support BDCP as the foundation of a comprehensive solution to the Delta."

Metropolitan's planned contribution of an additional approximately $22 million is part of $100 million in additional funding necessary from water districts served by the State Water Project and Central Valley Project to complete the environmental review process. The total cost to develop a comprehensive water system/ecosystem improvement plan and to analyze that plan through the environmental review process is almost $250 million.

Two state and four federal agencies hold key leadership and regulatory roles in BDCP. Metropolitan, other water districts and stakeholder groups participate in various BDCP planning meetings. The development of BDCP, particularly the environmental review documents, requires an intense level of coordination among the various agencies. The agreement to adhere to a schedule by the Obama and Brown administrations includes important details on the completion of draft documents and agency review timetables.

The schedule calls for the completion of a draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement by June 2012 and a final Record of Decision by February 2013.

"I acknowledge that these schedules are aggressive," said John Laird, California secretary of Natural Resources, in an Aug.9 letter to U.S. Department of Interior Undersecretary David Hayes and U.S. Department of Commerce Undersecretary Jane Lubchenco. "We must be mindful of the great value of timely completion of the draft EIR/EIS to substantively engage the public on issues so vital to California's environment and economy."

"We intend to do our part to make the BDCP effort a successful one," Hayes wrote in response to Secretary Laird. "We have the opportunity to meet or even improve on the current schedule if we are successful in establishing an effective process to work through ongoing issues."

The additional funding from Metropolitan and other SWP/CVP districts will be staged and linked to the success of three remaining phases of the BDCP process--the completion of an administrative draft EIR, a public draft and the final EIR/EIS and Record of Decision.

"This funding approach provides the necessary incentive for BDCP to stick to the agreed-upon schedule," said Chairman Foley.

The BDCP process currently includes a thorough review of options to improve water conveyance across the Delta. Proposals include a new 42-mile surface canal as well as two 35-mile tunnels. Various capacity options also are under study. Both conveyance options would divert water from the northern Delta and transport it to the existing SWP/CVP aqueduct systems located in the southern Delta. A preferred conveyance alternative is expected to be part of the draft EIR/EIS scheduled for release next year.

Metropolitan remains committed to this important water system improvement project which is critical to the state's economy and environment. The unanimous action by Metropolitan's board is a critical milestone in the quest to restoring the Bay Delta ecosystem and providing water supply reliability for our state.

This newsletter is produced by:
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
700 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012