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Water conference hears endorsement of Delta Conveyance Project

An upgrade of California’s water transport system in Northern California would have provided last winter enough water to supply 2.5 million people for one year, according to one official responsible for making that project happen.

The Delta Conveyance Project, a proposed $16 billion modernization of the water transport infrastructure in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, would help the state deal with more droughts and the effects of climate change, said Graham Bradner, executive director of the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority.

If that system had been operating during the large storms last October and December it would have captured and transported 236,000 acre-feet of water, some of which would have ended up in Southern California and the Inland Empire, Bradner said Friday during the 16th annual Southern California Water Conference in Ontario.

“We’re in a 30-year drought, and I think we’re living climate change in real time,” said Bradner, a professional geologist with more than 20 years experience designing and building major water infrastructure projects in Northern California. “We have to make some choices, and this will be a very reliable way to transport water. But it’s proven to be a very difficult project to get over the finish line.”

For that to happen, funding will have to be secured and the project must be approved by multiple state agencies.

A draft environmental impact report was released July 27. A final document is expected by the end of next year, with construction possibly starting in 2028, Bradner said.

The Delta Conveyance will be part of State Water Project, California’s water delivery system that was established by Gov. Pat Brown.

Right now, the water project is delivering only about five percent of its full capacity, its lowest possible level, Bradner said.

The conference was again hosted by the Building Industry Association of Southern California.

This year’s conference discussion was dominated by the drought and the need for better water conservation. Adel Hagekhalil, general manager and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, gave the keynote address.

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