Inter-tie Project Breaks Ground

Inter-tie Project Breaks Ground

November 2, 2010

Securing More Water for Westside

Under blue, cloudless skies near Tracy where the Delta-Mendota Canal and the California Aqueduct are at their closest, officials broke ground to create a tie-in that provides much needed flexibility in managing the state’s water system. The project should be ready for use by 2012.

More importantly, it will provide more reliability of water deliveries to farmers who have been hardest hit by shortages under the regulatory drought. The Intertie will restore as much as 40,000 acre-feet of annual deliveries to the Central Valley project.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region has contracted the construction of the $28 million dollar plumping plant and underground pipeline connecting the federal Delta-Mendota Canal (DMC) and the State’s California Aqueduct (CA).

The Department of Interior has committed $15.8 million thought the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. CALFED funding is $8.8 million Funding for the project includes $15.8 million dollars.

Editor’s note: You may read about CALFED, but do you really know what it stands for?  CALFED Bay-Delta Program, also know as CALFED, is a department within the government of California, administered under the California Resources Agency. The department acts a ringleader, coordinating the activities and interests of the state government of California and the U.S. federal government to focus on interrelated water problems in the state’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The coordinating program was created in 1994 by Governor Pete Wilson and the federal Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt following a decade of chaotic disputes between the state of California, the federal government, environmental interests, and municipal water services.

The Inter-tie, a shared Federal-State water system improvement, connects the two water systems with two 108-inch diameter pipes, running 500 linear feet. The system has a pumping capacity of 467 cubic feet per second gravity flow from the CA to the DMC.

The Inter-tie connecting the DMC with the CA was studied in 1988 by Fresno-based Westlands Water District.

“The only negative thing I can say about this project, is why did it take so long,” said Tom Birmingham, the General Manager for Westlands, which serves 600,000 acres on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley. “This project will provide much needed flexibility for delivery of water to farmers in the valley.”

Birmingham said that the project is expensive but the reality is that the water infrastructure needed over the next 10 to 15 years is going be expensive.  “But because of the conservation and the cropping changes that we have seen in the valley over the recent years—this is a project that farmers can afford.   

“The beauty of the inter-tie is that it will enable Westlands to fill San Luis Reservoir—more often and earlier in the year,” said Birmingham. “This will enable the Bureau of Reclamation to make water allocation decisions earlier in the year at times when farmers can base their planting decisions on those allocation announcements.”