Local water agencies are moving ahead on a study of alternatives that could bring more water to the Tri-Valley to keep up with population growth. Part of the study would include educating water customers about the alternatives and their costs.

Zone 7 Water Agency will be the administrator of the study, with results expected by the end of June 2022. The Valley’s three public water retailers — Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) —will join Zone 7 in equally sharing the $1 million projected cost, at $250,000 each.

The agreement between Zone 7 and the three water retailers resulted from Tri-Valley Water Liaison Committee discussions, which looked at how the Tri-Valley can build its water supply to handle future population growth.

The elected representatives from each agency were enthusiastic about potable reuse of treated waste water, and wanted more research. They also wanted to evaluate alternatives. These included building a desalination project in the East Bay, helping to fund a new rain runoff project at Sites Reservoir north of the Delta, storing water in Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County, and future water transfers from underground water storage districts in the Central Valley.

In addition, they want to study the Delta Conveyance, a proposed tunnel more than 30 miles long to move water over to the pumping plants that send water to customers

south of the Delta. Those customers include the Valley water agencies. Proponents say the water quality from it would be better, although the cost would be in the billions.

The potable reuse project to be studied would be able to account for 7% to 15% of the future Valley water demands, according to a 2018 consultant’s report. That conclusion prompted the Tri-Valley Water Liaison Committee members to take this next step of research.

Another project approved unanimously by Zone 7 directors at their Dec. 13 meeting was the hiring of JPW Communications at a maximum of $130,000 for 2020; its contract could be renewed for two additional years at the same maximum dollar amount. The firm would aid the communication efforts of Zone 7 staff communications specialist Alexandra Bradley by providing various graphics and advertising campaign expertise on an as-needed basis.

Bradley writes the agency’s annual report and other communications documents, but the supplemental help from JPW will provide video and still photography work of a higher quality than possible with in-house work, Zone 7 General Manager Valerie Pryor said.

Bradley will supervise the project budget. She said that she intends to stay under the cost ceiling as deeply as possible. JPW will help adapt outreach to social media, and if there are emergency situations connected to planned power outages by PG&E, floods, or water service problems, JPW can help.

“We want to be sure to have all the resources necessary to communicate with the public,” Pryor said.