WaterFix: reasoning behind the divided Santa Clara Valley Water District Board vote

The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board voted 4-3 today to participate in the California WaterFix project. The reasoning of the Board of Directors reflected the complexity, cost and risk of the hugely controversial project.

The megaproject faces stiff opposition from Northern California water agencies and local governments, including the Delta counties of San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Sacramento, Yolo, and Solano, and the Delta cities of Stockton, Antioch, and Brentwood.  San Joaquin County attorney Tom Keeling, one of several Delta attorneys who spoke in opposition to the project at the SCVWD Board hearing, called the project a “litigation risk on steroids.”

Director Linda LeZotte opposed the project, citing the risks of the North Delta diversions to the Delta estuary. Although SCVWD staff had provided her with reading material about the adaptive management process and the Biological Opinions governing the North Delta diversions, she stated that they did not convince her that the Delta would not suffer adverse impacts.

Director John Varela opposed the project, citing the overall risks of the project, including the risks of cost escalation.

Director Richard Santos opposed the project, citing liability of the District for damages during construction. Although the draft Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Agreement attempted to indemnify the water agencies from an liability, Director Santos stated that he had talked to several attorneys, and they had all said, “you’re liable.”

Director Barbara Keegan supported the project, but acknowledged concerns expressed by residents in Discovery Bay about impacts on boating and Delta recreation. She stated that the SCVWD appointed representative would be bringing the construction impacts to the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction JPA Board. “Someone has to stand up and say, ‘this is a problem.'”

Director Tony Estremera supported the project, citing the need to “have a seat at the table.”

Director Gary Kremen supported the project.

The Board’s support for the controversial project was ultimately decided by the vote of Director Nai Hsueh, who expressed her confidence in the state government to “do the right thing.” Ms. Hsueh is a hydraulic engineer who previously worked for the Santa Clara Valley Water District for three decades.

4 thoughts on “WaterFix: reasoning behind the divided Santa Clara Valley Water District Board vote

  1. The vote today is disappointing on so many levels. The ecological consequences of this project are disastrous..All the counties involved in this Delta dissection will suffer the reality of poor judgement related to this premier wonderful water world. Boating, fishing, swimming and camping will be impacted by these ill thought out tunnels. One weekend in paradise would surely have changed the ramifications of the vote today. Northern California is losing a tremendous recreational asset. It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!!

  2. Director Nai Hsueh should have her head examined…she’s sure the state government will ‘do the right thing’…they sure as heck haven’t so far…but I suppose that’s none of our business!

    1. I hope these folks have also figured on the extra $$$ they will also need for the Golden Gate dams they will also need to build to protect the Delta’s and 2/3 of California’s water supply and Central Valley ag from the Pacific Ocean that “SLR”/sea level rise will bring to the SF Bay, Delta, and Central Valley ground water … Capiche? … https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/damming-golden-gate-douglas-deitch/

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