YOLO COUNTY NEWS

City government

Water agency closer to state funding for intake facility

By From page A1 | May 24, 2013

The Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency is closer to securing a large piece of state funding that agency officials have been counting on to help pay for a key component of the surface water project.

A Senate budget subcommittee approved $10 million Tuesday to be dedicated to the water project’s $42 million intake facility. The Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation followed suit on Wednesday.

“These funds will help finance the installation of a fish screen on the largest remaining unscreened intake on the Sacramento River to protect iconic salmon runs, including runs of endangered salmon and other fish,” Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, said in a news release.

The state funds would be drawn from a $2.6 billion water bond that was approved by voters in 2002, called Proposition 40, or the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act.

Wolk also noted that the funds would go a long way toward easing the burden on ratepayers in Yolo County, who certainly will feel the effects of the overall $235 million project in the coming years while water rates are inflated to help local agencies pay off their costs.

The full Senate budget committee, other Assembly budget committees and Gov. Jerry Brown still must approve the allocation. Brown’s budget for fiscal year 2013-14 must win support from the Legislature by June 30.

The water project will pump water from the Sacramento River, treat it and pipe it to Davis and Woodland, largely replacing each city’s reliance on ground well drinking water supplies by 2017. The project was approved by Davis voters in March.

Water agency officials, meanwhile, are still expecting the state to advance an additional $6.7 million at some point to fully match the $16.7 million that the federal government pledged to the intake facility several years ago.

However, without this pending monetary commitment from the state, the $8.3 million that the feds budgeted for the intake this year — or the first half of its original commitment — could be lost.

“If the state does not come through with their match, that money that’s been appropriated by the federal government is at risk,” said Dennis Diemer, general manager of the water agency.

Without the outside financial support, the cost of the overall project to Davis and Woodland — and consequently, the ratepayers — would rise above the estimated $235 million price tag.

The state and federal funding actually pays for Water Reclamation District 2035’s $33.4 million share of the project. If the funding fails to materialize, Davis and Woodland would be on the hook for the cost.

But Diemer said that based on the state’s track record, he is confident the money will come.

“There have been 29 fish screening projects dating back to 1994 and the state has always matched (federal funding) 50-50,” Diemer said. “The state has always said on our project that they’d match.”

Diemer also said the agency will be able to bid the project out this fall if it receives the initial funding, despite it being only about half of what he expects the state and federal governments to dedicate to the project.

— Reach Tom Sakash at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected], (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
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