Source: Valley Roadrunner

CWA master plan public comments being reviewed

by Joe Naiman
Valley Roadrunner Correspondent

February 20, 2014

The update of the San Diego County Water Authoritys master plan is now in the phase of review and response to public comments.

The update was released for public review Nov. 22. The public comment period ended Jan. 16 and included a Jan. 9 public hearing. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires SDCWA staff to review and respond to each comment. The CWA staff will submit a proposed final update to the CWA board, which is expected to consider the updated plan for adoption at the CWAs March 27 board meeting.

The CWAs first Regional Water Facilities Master Plan was completed in 2002, and the CWA board certified a Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) in Nov. 2003. The purpose of the master plan update is to develop a cost-effective and reliable plan for new infrastructure capable of meeting member agency demands through the year 2035. The update is intended to guide future CWA investments for capital improvements. Potential facilities identified in the update will be evaluated against projected regional demands and local supply development, water resources management, water conservation, and asset management needs.

The master plan update process includes data collection, assessment of the current Capital Improvement Program (CIP), assessment of aqueduct system operations and capabilities, development of new facility and supply alternatives, and selection of preferred alternatives. CWA staff has been working with a technical advisory committee of member agency staff and general managers to develop, evaluate, and refine the alternatives.

The process will then determine when a particular facility would be needed. The CWA will assess baseline system performance before investing in new projects.

That really leads to resizing or rescoping projects, CWA water resources director Ken Weinberg said. We think we can be deferring about $600 million in CIP expenditures.

The updates, including potential deferrals of long-term projects to beyond 2025, would increase the total CIP project budget from $2.961 billion to between $2.344 and $2.434 billion.

The CWAs future needs include storage and conveyance as well as supply. Conveyance capacity is needed during peak delivery periods. The CWAs storage projects allow additional conveyance capacity to transport water to the various reservoirs during low demand years. If we need to do something we will be in a position to do something, Weinberg said.

The master plan includes a three-phase effort to expand the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant service area. Phase 1, the rescaling of the Venturi meter at the CWAs delivery point in Fallbrook where the CWA takes over distribution from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), was completed in May 2013 and reduced the measured minimum flow so that the CWA can take lower flow amounts and be charged for only that amount the CWA is also investigating the possibility of a new meter which will allow for even lower measured flows; the feasibility studies are expected to be complete this year.

Phase 2 involves planning efforts to upgrade the pumps at the Valley Center Pump Station while Phase 3 will evaluate the long-term system wide impacts and potential system improvements needed due to the increased capacity.

Treated water from the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant is initially distributed along the CWAs Second Aqueduct which includes Pipelines 3, 4, and 5. The Valley Center Pipeline connects the Second Aqueduct to Pipelines 1 and 2 on the First Aqueduct. Pipelines 1, 2, and 4 currently convey treated water to CWA turnouts while Pipelines 3 and 5 carry untreated water through the San Diego Aqueduct system.

The Valley Center Pipeline currently carries 20 cubic feet per second (cfs) while the CWA takes 60 cfs from the MWD delivery point to provide 80 cfs of treated water along the First Aqueduct south of the Valley Center Pipeline. The expansion of the Valley Center Pump Station operations will allow 60 cfs to be carried through the Valley Center Pipeline and reduce the imported water amount to 20 cfs.

Based on projections of water costs in the year 2020, conveying additional treated water from the Twin Oaks plant would cost approximately $150 per acre-foot less than importing treated water from MWD. Preliminary cost estimates, which will be refined following planning studies, range from $4.6 million to $8.5 million, which corresponds to a return on investment period of three to six years.

The CWA expects this years activities to include hiring a planning consultant to analyze potential Valley Center Pipeline system upgrades and additional Valley Center Pump Station needs; the project is expected to be complete near the end of Fiscal Year 2014-15.

The master plan update will also study hydroelectric energy generation opportunities. Fifteen potential hydroelectric generation locations have been identified, including the pipeline segments at the northernmost portion of the San Diego Aqueduct. Excess aqueduct pressure during low-flow demand periods could be used for energy recovery.

The PEIR covers alternatives and regional effects and thus will reduce the scope of work for the Environmental Impact Report of individual projects in the master plan. The PEIR will be a supplemental addendum to the PEIR approved in 2003; under CEQA if only minor additions or changes are necessary to make the previous EIR adequate for the updated project a supplemental EIR may be used.

The CWAs July 25 board meeting approved the list of proposed projects to be analyzed in the supplemental PEIR while directing CWA staff to complete the initial draft of the master plan update and distribute it to CWA member agencies for comment.

It has been a long process, Weinberg said.