DOI News

Helping Both the Environment and the Economy


by Reclamation Commissioner Mike Connor

As I participated in the dedication of the Contra Costa Water District's Fish Screen Project at Rock Slough today near Oakley, Calif., the scenes around me were certainly picturesque. There were views of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its meandering sloughs, lush green farms and wildlife habitat. Ironically though, some important aspects of the dedication ceremony and project were not so visible, not so immediately apparent.  

Opening the Contra Costa Rock Slough Fish ScreenThe immediate impact of the fish screens, which are not visible because they are underwater in the slough, is that they will help preserve endangered and threatened fish species in the Delta. That not only helps fulfill part of Reclamation's mission of environmental protection, but also helps to ensure a dependable water supply to a half-million people and the surrounding businesses and industries in Contra Costa County--a key part of the San Francisco Bay Area economy. Atop that, construction of the project provided employment for about 90 construction workers locally. In total, the White House Council of Economic Advisors estimates that about 280 jobs were created or saved as a result of this project.  

The Bureau of Reclamation provided more than $25 million from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for construction of the project, which has much meaning for the local economy and the environment.  

The project is also a piece of a larger and more complex effort to mitigate the environmental effects of the Central Valley Project (CVP) on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Water from the CVP, one of the world's largest and best-known systems for storing and moving water, flows through the Delta, which is the largest estuary on the West Coast. Even though the project dedicated today is but one relatively small part of the CVP and a sweeping federal plan for assisting the environmental health of the Delta, it yet again reflects Reclamation's steadfast, long-term commitment to promoting certainty and sustainability in the use of our water resources.