Title transfer to Contra Costa Water District would advance modernization of the 81-year-old facility
This month the United States Senate and House of Representatives both passed a public lands conservation bill – a package of projects and programs related to public lands nationwide. Of local interest, within the bill is language to transfer federal ownership of the Contra Costa Canal system to Contra Costa Water District (CCWD), taking an important step toward modernizing the aging aqueduct.
The Contra Costa Canal system serves as the primary water delivery system for 500,000 people in central and eastern Contra Costa County. It was first constructed in 1937 as part of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project.
The canal system includes the 48-mile Contra Costa Canal, the Shortcut Pipeline, two reservoirs, and other related facilities. The title transfer will give CCWD ownership of assets paid off in 2010 and operated locally since 1972. Included in the facilities is the Clayton Canal, which is an important component of the Concord Naval Weapons Station park area. By accepting ownership of the canal system, CCWD can more efficiently operate and maintain the system, improve safety, and reduce its administrative burdens and associated costs.
Because the canal system is currently owned by the federal government, title transfer required an act of Congress. Senator Feinstein and Congressman DeSaulnier both introduced bills in 2018 to carry forward the necessary action by federal legislators. The language from those bills was incorporated into the public lands conservation bill and now awaits the President’s approval.
“We appreciate the commitment by our federal legislators to make this transfer a reality,” said CCWD President Lisa Borba. “CCWD is planning for the future of water service for our customers, and modernizing the aging canal is a major but necessary investment. Taking ownership of the system is an important step to ensure that we are investing wisely locally for our current and future customers.”
The transfer has gained support from local stakeholders, including East Bay Regional Park District and the cities of Walnut Creek and Antioch. Commitments have been made by CCWD to continue all of the existing recreation benefits on the properties including Contra Loma Reservoir and provide for recreation enhancements as appropriate.