Increasing Water Storage/Hydropower
Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion
Mid-Pacific Regional Director Don Glaser signed a Record of Decision for the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project near Brentwood in Contra Costa County, California, in March 2011. The project, completed in 2012, expands the existing reservoir’s storage from 100,000 acre-feet to 160,000 acre-feet, an increase of 60 percent, by raising the dam 34 feet in height to 521 feet.
The Contra Costa Water District, which owns and operates Los Vaqueros Reservoir, funded and constructed the $120 million project. Reclamation provided about $18.3 million in planning and permitting assistance, which was essential to construction of the project.
Shows construction work on Los Vaqueros Reservoir
An aerial view of the entire reservoir
- Improves water supply reliability.
- Improves the quality of water supplies for Contra Costa Water District’s municipal and industrial customers in the San Francisco Bay Area, especially during droughts.
- Protects Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fisheries through operational flexibility.
- Provides enhanced recreation facilities.
The Region’s issuance of a Record of Decision was the final step in documenting Reclamation’s decision to enter into a coordinated operations agreement with Contra Costa Water District.
After providing technical assistance and funding for the engineering and design of the dam facilities, Reclamation worked with other government agencies to secure permits and establish programs that ensure the protection and preservation of biological, cultural, and water resources that occur throughout the project site.
The reservoir expansion was the first storage project to be implemented under the CALFED Bay-Delta Authorization Act of 2004.
CALFED is a 30-year program that began in 2000 when 18 state and federal agencies signed the CALFED Record of Decision. The program is based on four major resource management objectives that guide actions designed to achieve a healthy ecosystem while supplying 25 million Californians with a reliable water supply. The objectives of CALFED are ecosystem restoration, water supply reliability, water quality and levee system integrity. Reclamation plays a key role as the federal lead agency for implementing water supply reliability actions in coordination with state and local partner agencies.
Madera Groundwater Banking Project
Mid-Pacific Regional Director Don Glaser delivered the keynote address at a ceremony in August 2011 that marked the beginning of the Madera Ranch groundwater banking project, located west of the City of Madera, in Madera County, California. The manager of the Region’s South-Central California Area Office, Michael Jackson, also spoke at the event.
The project, formally known as the Madera Irrigation District Water Supply Enhancement Project, will ease the overdraft of groundwater in the region while preserving native Central Valley habitat. A steady increase in water needs for agricultural, municipal and industrial uses, together with limited surface supplies and groundwater pumping, has caused the water table to decline, resulting in degraded water quality.
The underlying aquifer will serve as an underground reservoir for up to an estimated 250,000 acre-feet of water. About 55,000 acre-feet of surplus water in wet years, such as 2011, can be stored through groundwater recharge and later pumped to the surface for use when needed in dry years.
The groundbreaking ceremony came after Director Glaser signed a Record of Decision that included approval for the district to bank a portion of its Central Valley Project water outside the district’s service area and approval to construct an extension of a Reclamation-owned canal.
The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 authorized Reclamation to enter into a cooperative agreement with the district to support the final design and construction of the project. The Act authorizes federal cost sharing and limits it to 25 percent of the total cost of the project, or $22.5 million, whichever is less.
The project will be completed in two phases:
- Phase I involves constructing delivery infrastructure improvements, selectively using 550 acres of natural swales for recharge, and installing soil berms to direct recharge flows. The swales for the project were chosen in order to have the least possible impact on vernal pools.
- Phase II involves constructing 323 acres of recharge basins and facilities for recovery of banked water.
Madera Ranch covers more than 13,500 acres southwest of Madera, with nearly 3,000 acres used for row crops. The rest is rangeland that is essentially native Central Valley habitat, with grasslands, vernal pools and rare species such as the blunt nose leopard lizard.
The district encompasses an area of about 128,000 acres. It uses a gravity irrigation distribution system that includes 300 miles of open flow canal systems and 150 miles of pipelines. The district serves farms and also provides municipal and industrial water to a large portion of Madera. The city has a population of more than 60,000 and is the county seat of Madera County.
Hydropower Project Under Construction at the Junction of the A and C Canals on the Klamath Project
C Canal in Klamath Falls, Oregon, flows at the height of irrigation season
Construction of a new hydroelectric powerplant near Klamath Falls, Oregon, began in December 2011.
Reclamation issued a notice of acceptance in April 2011 to the Klamath Irrigation District to construct a hydroelectric facility on Reclamation’s C Canal, which is operated by the irrigation district. Reclamation completed environmental compliance for the issuance of a Lease of Power Privilege and alterations permit for construction of the powerplant in October 2011. Reclamation authorized construction to proceed in November 2011.
The district’s contractor finished removing an old concrete structure at the site in December 2011 and began construction of the hydropower facility. The plant, scheduled for completion in 2012, will take advantage of existing irrigation flows from the Klamath Project’s A Canal down to its C Canal, hence the name of the new powerplant, known as the Klamath C-Drop Hydro Project.
The facility consists of an intake structure, forebay, powerhouse containing generating equipment, and a 150-foot transmission line. An existing fish screen on A Canal, upstream of the project site, helps prevent fish from entering C Canal.
When in full operation, the flow of water will allow production of up to 1.1
megawatts of electricity.