Alameda County — Zone 7 Water Agency directors will soon consider spending an estimated $77 million to install pipelines linking the Chain of Lakes.

The pipeline framework would help to store more water in the underground basin between Pleasanton and Livermore or send emergency drought supplies to the Del Valle Water Treatment Plant near Arroyo Road.

The board is expected to make its decision about pipeline routes later this year.

On June 29, Zone 7 staff presented information to the Zone 7 Water Resources Committee (WRC), comprised of directors Sandy Figuers, Sarah Palmer and Dennis Gambs. The directors asked clarifying questions but took no position.

Zone 7 also has met with staff members from Livermore, Pleasanton and the county in an outreach effort.

Although total costs have been penciled in at $77 million, a report to the committee notes that it is “not applicable yet” to address funding, since it is still early in the process, and there won’t be a need to choose the routes until the end of the year.

Approximately $69.5 million of the $77 million total cost will come in overlapping phases of environmental review, permit process, monitoring, and construction, which is expected to begin in January 2024 and finish in early 2026.

Desalination in the Spotlight

The pipeline project comes at a time when Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) Board Member Arun Goel of Dublin has expressed interest in another pipeline project: Antioch’s project to desalinate brackish water it plans to send through a 3,000-foot-long pipe from the adjacent Carquinez Strait. He told The Independent that he wants DSRSD General Manager Dan McIntyre to make a presentation about Antioch’s project, because it could serve as a model for the Tri-Valley.

The Tri-Valley water retailers, who meet as a liaison group periodically, have listed building a desalination pipeline network as one of the options to provide more Valley water. Other alternatives include injecting reverse-osmosis treated wastewater into the underground basin or a pond, funding the creation of a new water-generating reservoir (Sites) northwest of Sacramento with other water agencies for new water, and purchasing storage water from Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) at Los Vaqueros Reservoir.

John Samuelson, who heads the Antioch project, said that it will produce 6,700 acre-feet (AF). The city’s total use is 15,000 AF. An acre foot is the amount of water that covers 1 acre to a depth of 1 foot and can serve two households during a year.

Antioch is contributing 15% of the money from its water rate fund. The city is also borrowing $56 million from the State Revolving Fund, with $55 million for construction and $1 million for planning.

The state Department of Water Resources (DWR) gave the city a $10 million grant, one of only three awarded this year. Antioch started planning the project seven years ago.