The Independent endorses Angela Ramirez Holmes, Laurene Green and Hugh Bussell for the Zone 7 Board.

The importance of Zone 7’s role to provide the Tri-Valley with a reliable source of water has significantly increased because of population growth and the threat of drought. Conserving water and finding additional supply, as well as water storage, are the overarching issues facing Zone 7 Directors.

We believe that incumbent Angela Ramirez Holmes, and newcomers Laurene Green and Hugh Bussell, will best solve these pressing problems. Dick Quigley and Sandy Figuers have served as board members 16 and 24 years respectively. Despite their many contributions over the decades, we think that it is now time for others to bring new perspectives to the Zone 7 Board.

Angela Ramirez Holmes, a Zone 7 Director for eight years, showed her respect for the public when four years ago, she and Director Jim McGrail voted against spending $250,000 for Governor Jerry Brown’s Twin Tunnel project, known as the Delta Fix. Local citizens and area environmentalists overwhelmingly urged rejection of the project because of its harm to wildlife in the Delta and farmers in the area. Zone 7’s water represents only 2% of the total water that would be taken by the 29 State Water Contractors in the Delta Fix. Many were surprised that Zone 7 directors voted to be the first water contractor in the entire state to embrace the Delta Fix despite objections from the public.

Governor Gavin Newsom has now reduced the Twin Tunnels to a single tunnel. Because of the upcoming environmental review, many question whether this version of the Delta Fix will be funded in the near future, or at all.

Ramirez Holmes is one of those who believes that the new Delta Fix will be tied up in litigation for a long time, and notes that participation in the project is very expensive. She turns to storage options to solve Zone 7’s reliability issue, such as the Sites Reservoir, Los Vaqueros Reservoir and a revisiting of Del Valle Lake.

Although she thinks potable water reuse is a long way off, and has questions about the feasibility and acceptance of it, she supports continuing the next round of studies.

Laurene Green will take a strong stand against Zone 7 prematurely adopting potable reuse. She states that we do not know all the contaminates, so the risk of dangerous chemicals entering our drinking water is high. She thinks desalination is better, but still a concern. She agrees that recycled water can be used for irrigation, as it is now, but even here, she thinks the concentration may be growing too fast.

In order to increase our supply of clean water, she favors capturing rainwater in mini-reservoirs and cisterns, cutting back our yards and watering them with grey water.

Green is open to water storage in Los Vaqueros and Del Valle Lake. Although favorable to the Delta Fix, she states that it is a work in progress whose value to the Tri-Valley will have to be judged.

Hugh Bussell is concerned about the impact of the Delta Fix on the fisheries and farmers in the area. He remains skeptical that the tunnel will benefit Zone 7 more than hurt it.

Storm water should not be sent out to the ocean, according to Bussell. Catchment basins should collect rainwater.

Over the long term, Bussell thinks Del Valle Lake should store water at the level the dam will allow. This means allowing the water level to rise, and rebuilding the existing East Bay Regional Park near Del Valle Lake so that it stays above the new level of the lake. He is open to water storage at Los Vaqueros Reservoir, and to storage at the Chain of Lakes. The costs of all the alternatives have to be evaluated.

Bussell would like to take a serious look at desalinization, in particular reverse osmosis. Whether the water can be kept safe, and at an appropriate cost are questions that have to be resolved, he said.

Dick Quigley, a 16-year member of the Zone 7 Board, continues to support the Delta Fix, now a single tunnel. We appreciate his creative attempt in previous years to secure more water storage capacity at Del Valle Lake by raising the water level to the full capacity of the lake, and his support of storage at the Chain of Lakes. He estimates that the increased capacity of Del Valle Lake would allow for as much as 37,000 acre feet of additional water.

As a geologist, Sandy Figuers appreciates the complexities of Livermore Valley geologically and hydrologically. He is particularly aware of the dangers of Cemex mining below the 100 feet that their agreement with Zone 7 specifies. Also, he believes that because our groundwater basin is smaller than others, direct injection of highly treated wastewater would have to be stringently vetted. He states that Newsom’s single tunnel is moving forward, and any other choice is now moot. He, too, supported the Delta Fix four years ago.