US Metropolitan Water District backs $17bn project to upgrade water system

The US Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors has voted to support a $17bn project to upgrade the state water system and help improve supply reliability for the Southland.

The board approved the district’s 26% share of financing the state-federal California WaterFix project in addition to moving forward on a governance structure to build and finance the project, in which Metropolitan has a share of about $4.3bn.

Metropolitan board chairman Randy Record said: “Every generation of Southern Californians has to reinvest in our water system to ensure a reliable water future.

“We simply must modernise and improve the reliability of our imported supplies as well as meet the needs of growth by developing more local supplies and extending conservation.”

California WaterFix will modernise the outdated Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta delivery system by building three new intakes in the northern Delta along with two tunnels to carry water to the existing aqueduct system in the southern Delta.

Metropolitan general manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said: “Given our size, Metropolitan is the anchor tenant for any successful California WaterFix, and this vote puts us on record as being ready and willing to participate.”

The vote by the board follows more than a decade of planning, preliminary design, environmental analysis, regulatory review and public input.

Metropolitan has received several comments and letters from the public with regard to the project.

The board also voted to finalise the project’s governance structures; participate in an adaptive management programme; and to join separate joint power authorities to oversee construction and finance.