California Water Officials Begin Negotiations To Modify State Water Project Contracts

By Carolyn Whetzel

Nov. 25 — California's Department of Water Resources (DWR) will begin negotiations next month to determine what changes would be needed to water supply contracts should the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) be implemented.

In a Nov. 24 news release, DWR Director Mark Cowin said the objective of the talks with the 29 public agencies that purchase supplies from the State Water Project is to develop proposed amendments to the contracts that define the rights and obligations under both the DWR and the 29 public agencies that would benefit from the BDCP.

The proposed BDCP is a long-term plan to re-engineer the hub of the state's water conveyance system, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which supplies irrigation water to farms and drinking water to urban areas.

Under the plan, the state would build two 30-mile long tunnels to move water from the north to the south and restore thousands of acres of the estuary.

Water contractors would pick up the tab for most of the $25 million project.

Cowin said the initial meeting will focus on establishing ground rules and other negotiation-related processes. No substantive issues would be addressed, he said.

“These negotiations are entirely separate from other BDCP planning activities and the ongoing BDCP evaluation process,” Cowin said. The talks aren't a forum for making decisions about approving the BDCP, he said.

DWR and other agencies are in the process of revising the draft BDCP and related environmental documents. The revised elements of the documents are expected to be recirculated in 2015.

The first session will take place Dec. 10 in Sacramento. Telephone access to the session also will be available at (719) 359-9722, passcode 138000#.

To contact the reporter on this story: Carolyn Whetzel in Los Angeles at cwhetzel@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com