Contra Costa Water District Plans Big Expansion

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A dozen water agencies preparing for the next California drought are moving ahead with an $800 million expansion of one of the largest reservoirs in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Contra Costa Water District, which owns the Los Vaqueros Reservoir, has scheduled six public meetings to discuss new environmental studies it released Monday.

“This is an opportunity to help us deal with extended droughts,” water district spokeswoman Jennifer Allen told The Mercury News in San Jose (http://bayareane.ws/2sJJK8C ). “It’s a way to expand the benefits of the reservoir and make it work for a larger group.”

Officials discussed a possible expansion of the reservoir a decade ago but dropped it as the economy struggled and few matching funds were available.

Supporters now hope that up to $400 million of the projected cost will come from a water bond passed by California voters in 2014. The rest would come from customers of each participating agency.

Costs would likely be decided based on the amount of water each agency would get.

“Having more partners brings in more customers, and that helps spread the costs out more widely,” Allen said.

California has been drenched in rain and snow this year after suffering a historic five-year drought.

The expansion plan is to raise the reservoir’s earthen dam by 55 feet to make it 273 feet high. The construction would expand the size of Los Vaqueros from its capacity of 160,000 acre-feet to 275,000 acre-feet, which is enough water for the annual needs of 1.4 million people.

More studies and permits are needed. Construction would begin in 2022 and finish in 2027.

The reservoir is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of San Francisco.

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