OAKLEY, Calif.–Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor today joined state, local and tribal officials to dedicate a key Recovery Act-funded water infrastructure project that will help ensure a sustainable water supply and a strong economy for California, while protecting sensitive fish species and the ecosystem they inhabit.
The Rock Slough Fish Screen, constructed through a partnership between Reclamation and the Contra Costa Water District, takes an important step in advancing the Interim Federal Action Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by completing the screening of Contra Costa Canal intakes.
“This project is part of the Department's ongoing efforts to help build a more secure and sustainable water supply for the people of California,” said Secretary Salazar. “The infusion of Recovery Act dollars into the California economy is creating local jobs and allowing us to take a significant step toward restoration of the California Bay Delta.”
The dedication ceremony came just hours after Secretary Salazar delivered a speech about the Obama Administration's commitment to helping California secure future water supplies, ensure healthy rivers, and spur economic growth and job creation through major initiatives such as the restorations of the California Bay Delta and the San Joaquin River at the Commonwealth Club of California. To view his remarks, click here.
To complete the state-of-the-art fish screen at Rock Slough, where natural flows are intercepted from the Delta, four miles southeast of Oakley, Calif., and diverted into the Contra Costa Canal, Reclamation awarded a total of $25.6 million in ARRA dollars. The 48-mile-long canal, built by Reclamation, is the major water delivery system for the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD), the Central Valley Project's largest urban contractor.
The Rock Slough project completes the screening of the last of CCWD's four Delta intakes for protection of resident and migratory fish species, including the threatened Delta smelt and other threatened and endangered fish species that might otherwise be drawn in from the Delta.
“This project is a win-win for the Delta and the people of Contra Costa County,” said Contra Costa Water District Board President Joseph L. Campbell. “Its construction provided thousands of hours of employment for residents in this area, and the finished project will protect the environment and sensitive fish species of the Delta while ensuring water supply reliability for the customers we serve.”
The CCWD serves municipal and industrial customers and a population of about 500,000 people in Contra Costa County. The district's water supply capability and reliability is essential to the population and stability of the region's economy.
The fish screen is one of the projects included in the Interim Federal Action Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Department of the Interior and other federal agencies issued the plan in 2009, describing federal actions and investments the administration has been undertaking or would take to help address California's water supply and ecological crises. The project was further detailed as one of the highlights of the federal Bay-Delta initiatives in the 2010 report entitled, "Interim Federal Action Plan Status Update for the California Bay-Delta: 2011 and Beyond."
As a significant step forward in environmental mitigation in the Delta, the fish screen project also helps fulfill requirements of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, Section 3406(b)(5), Fish, Wildlife, Improved Water Management and Conservation and of the 2008 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Los Vaqueros Biological Opinion for the threatened Delta smelt.
The fish screen project, which is substantially completed already, is expected to be fully operational in November 2011.
The Department of the Interior has invested $1 billion under ARRA in America's water infrastructure to create jobs and get the economy moving again. Of that amount, almost half – $441.4 million – was spent by Reclamation in California for drought relief, ecosystem restoration, water system reclamation and reuse, conservation and infrastructure safety.