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Major Programs, Projects, and Water Storage Studies



The San Francisco Bay Estuary and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is where two of California’s largest rivers meet the saltwater from San Francisco Bay, creating the West Coast’s largest estuary. The area is a blend of towns, highways, marinas and farmland. More than 50 island tracts are surrounded by levees and about 700 miles of sloughs and winding channels.

The Delta, the hub of the federal Central Valley Project and California’s State Water Project, is among the most important ecosystems in the nation. Water from the Delta serves the federal and state water projects, which in turn, serve urban and agricultural areas in the San Francisco Bay area, the Silicon Valley, the San Joaquin Valley, the central coast and southern California.

The Delta itself sustains billions of dollars in agricultural and recreational activity. It is also the habitat for hundreds of species of plants and wildlife, and more than 50 species of fish, including some that are threatened and endangered.

The Delta has experienced significant ecological collapse as a result of 150 years of human activity, including California’s increasing demand for water; changing environmental and climate conditions; and stressors such as pesticides, pollutant discharges and invasive species. Long-term solutions are needed to ensure reliable, quality water supplies and a sustainable ecosystem.

Since the 1970s, urban, agricultural and environmental interests have differed over how to balance water diversions with environmental restoration in the Delta. Reclamation and its partners have implemented short-term solutions and are developing long-term plans for Delta sustainability in order to avert further ecological decline while maintaining reliable water supplies.

static image:  photo - an aerial view of the sacramento-san joaquin delta

An aerial view of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Region’s Bay-Delta Office

The Region’s Bay-Delta Office, created in 2010, provides a holistic view of Reclamation’s affect and responsibilities on and in the Bay-Delta area and ensures that Reclamation’s management of the CVP and Delta issues and activities are integrated across the management units of the CVP. The BDO is also the primary point of contact with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and other federal, state, and local agencies with which Reclamation collaborates on important issues and activities. The office is involved with numerous programs, projects and issues detailed throughout this report.

Ongoing Litigation

Several lawsuits were filed in 2009 challenging Reclamation’s acceptance and implementation of both a 2008 FWS Biological Opinion and a 2009 NMFS BO, and associated Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives, for the Coordinated Long-term Operation of the CVP and State Water Project. On December 14, 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a summary judgment finding the 2008 USFWS BO unlawful and remanded it to USFWS for further consideration. The court issued an amended Final Judgment on May 4, 2011, that ordered USFWS to complete a final revised BO by December 1, 2013.

The court remanded the NMFS BO to NMFS on September 20, 2011. On December 12, 2011, the court ordered NMFS to complete a draft BO by October 1, 2014, and a final BO by February 1, 2016. Reclamation has been ordered to conduct a review of both of the revised RPAs in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Departments of the Interior and Commerce, and the California Department of Water Resources filed a joint motion in the court for a three-year extension of the current court-ordered deadlines. The request included delaying completion of the USFWS and NMFS BOs and the associated NEPA process for three years, in favor of implementing a Collaborative Science and Adaptive Management Program that is largely targeted at key Delta actions included in the RPAs; and to test the performance of adaptive management activities, included in the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

The court ruled on April 9, 2013, granting a staged extension. The court extended all deadlines related to the BOs and the NEPA process by one year, with the potential of two additional one-year extensions if satisfactory progress is demonstrated to the court. The court ruling included a requirement that on February 14, 2014, the parties (i.e., NMFS, USFWS, Reclamation and DWR) submit to the court a joint report detailing progress on the CSAMP, providing additional information on the CSAMP future activities and describing how the results of the CSAMP will be incorporated into the consultation process. In addition, the parties are required to submit schedules to the court on how CSAMP and the consultations will proceed. The BDO continues to work in coordination with the other CVP management units, FWS, NMFS, the state of California and other partners, to meet these requirements.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan
interactive image:  photo - Proposed water conveyance systems through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta; click for larger photo
Proposed water conveyance systems through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Reclamation continues its participation in the BDCP in concert with the state of California and other federal lead agencies.

The BDCP is a Habitat Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan designed to meet the goals of ecosystem restoration, water supply reliability and water quality within a stable regulatory framework. The BDCP is the result of more than seven years of collaboration and scientific and policy review and input.
A cornerstone of the BDCP is construction and operation of a dual-conveyance water delivery system that would modernize and augment the heart of California’s aging water supply system. Key features of the plan include three new intakes along the Sacramento River, near the communities of Hood and Courtland, equipped with state-of-the-art fish screens, together capable of diverting up to 9,000 cubic feet for second; a new 40-acre-foot forebay to collect water from the Sacramento River; and twin tunnels 26 feet in diameter and about 30 miles long to carry water south to existing SWP and CVP pumping plants. The current plan, announced in August 2013, was downsized from a previous proposal due to landowner concerns about the impact on their properties.

Reclamation serves as a federal lead agency in the development of the BDCP Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement along with the USFWS and NMFS. Reclamation participates in the BDCP effort by providing technical information and guidance and ensuring compatibility with CVP requirements and responsibilities. The Draft BDCP and associated Draft EIR/EIS were released for public review and comment in December 2013.

Water Storage

Surface Water Storage Studies

There were significant developments in 2013 regarding Reclamation’s continuing investigations into possibilities for increasing surface water storage for multiple water resources benefits.

In June 2013, the Region released draft environment documents evaluating the potential effects of raising Shasta Dam and enlarging the reservoir. The dam and reservoir on the Sacramento River, located about 10 miles northwest of Redding, Calif., is a centerpiece of the well-known, high-profile Central Valley Project.
Developments in 2013 regarding other ongoing surface water storage studies include:

The primary purpose of the proposal to enlarge Shasta Dam is to increase survival of anadromous fish populations in the upper Sacramento River and increase water supply reliability for agricultural, urban and environmental purposes.

interactive image:  photo - an aerial view of shasta dam and reservoir in northern california; click for larger photo

An aerial view of Shasta Dam and Reservoir in northern California

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation, released in June, evaluated potential effects of six alternative plans to modify the dam and reservoir. Workshops were held in July, and public hearings in September, to collect public review and comment on the draft environmental documents.

The proposal analyzes a range of dam raises, from 6.5 feet to 18.5 feet, with corresponding increases in reservoir storage from 256,000 acre-feet to 634,000 acre-feet.

The Final Feasibility Report and Final EIS for the enlarging the dam are scheduled to be released in January 2015. The comments and feedback received on the draft documents will be used in identifying the preferred alternative and recommended plan.

The Shasta investigation is one of the surface water storage studies included in the 2000 CALFED Bay-Delta Programmatic Record of Decision.

Currently, Shasta Dam is 602 feet high with a reservoir capacity of 4.5 million acre-feet. Reclamation completed construction of the dam and reservoir in 1944 for flood control, irrigation water supply, municipal and industrial water supply, hydropower generation, fish and wildlife conservation and navigation purposes.

Joint Federal Project/Mormon Island Auxiliary Dam

Joint Federal Project

The ongoing Joint Federal Project auxiliary spillway is the cornerstone for more than $1 billion in dam safety and flood damage reduction improvements to further protect more than a million residents in communities downstream from the Folsom Dam complex, which is on the American River, about 25 miles northeast of Sacramento, Calif.

The project, which represents an unparalleled partnership between Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers, includes construction of an approach channel, control structure, spillway chute and stilling basin.

Reclamation completed initial phases in 2011, which included construction of haul roads, relocation of the Natoma water supply pipeline and excavation for the stilling basin, spillway chute and most of the control structure. Upon completion of the phases, the site was transferred to the Corps to complete the remaining phases.

The Corps awarded the third phase of JFP construction to build the control structure, which consists of a 120-foot-high gravity dam, with six submerged radial gates. The third phase is scheduled for completion by 2015. The Corps is on schedule to meet its commitment to complete construction and turn over the JFP to Reclamation in 2017.

In May 2013, the Corps awarded a $255.1 million contract to complete construction on the fourth and final phase of the new auxiliary spillway at Folsom Dam. The work consists of excavating material, then constructing the approach channel, spillway chute and stilling basin.

Mormon Island Auxiliary Dam

The Region, during 2013, completed the first phase of work on the Mormon Island Auxiliary Dam Modification Project, which is part of Reclamation’s dam safety program to reduce seismic or static risk.

The work consisted of a $35.5 million project that strengthened the foundation of the auxiliary dam through construction of a concrete key block that is 900 feet long, 60 feet wide and 60 feet deep. The structure is anchored eight feet into bedrock and further strengthened by pilings, braces and compacted backfill. This phase included excavating 120,000 cubic yards of sediment and rock, processing 60,000 cubic yards of concrete aggregate, onsite batching of 60,000 cubic yards of concrete, and placement of 60,000 cubic yards of compacted select backfill.

In July 2013, Reclamation awarded a $45.7 million contract for the second phase of the Mormon Island project. The phase is designed to further advance seismic improvements completed in the first phase by providing a more earthquake-resistant embankment. The work will include the overlay of material on the auxiliary dam’s downstream embankment and the installation of filters and drains. The second phase is expected to be completed in 2016.

interactive image:  photo - Workers construct the auxiliary spillway at Folsom Dam; click for larger photo interactive image:  photo - Workers construct the auxiliary spillway at Folsom Dam; click for larger photo
Workers construct the auxiliary spillway at Folsom Dam

February 28, 2014