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Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) General Manager Ron Deaton announced that the city of Los Angeles will have access to purchasing up to 40,000 acre-ft of water that can be conveyed through the California Aqueduct directly from farmers and other water sellers. Known as water transfers, the transactions would only involve water that is not already allocated under the State Water Project.
The water transfers will be possible through an agreement recently completed by LADWP with the State Department of Water Resources (DWR). The agreement allows the city to construct a turnout to deliver water from the California Aqueduct to the Los Angeles Aqueduct where the two aqueducts cross in the Antelope Valley.
The California Aqueduct, the main conduit for water deliveries through the State Water Project, carries water from the San Joaquin and Sacramento River Delta into Southern California, where it is distributed and sold to water utilities by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), the region’s wholesaler. The Los Angeles Aqueduct brings water from the Eastern Sierra and Owens Valley watershed directly to Los Angeles.
“This agreement will significantly enhance the cost-effective, reliable water supply for the city of Los Angeles by enabling the city to purchase water directly from independent water providers,” Deaton said. “The water we transfer through the new connection will replace Los Angeles Aqueduct water supplies that will remain in the Owens Valley for vital environmental restoration activities.”
Among those activities are projects to improve air quality in the Owens Valley by containing dust blowing off the dry Owens Lake and to provide water and habitat restoration to some 60 miles of the Lower Owens River. The various environmental restrictions have reduced deliveries of Owens Valley water to Los Angeles by approximately one-third, or 160,000 acre-ft per year. The LAA/California Aqueduct connection will supply up to 40,000 acre-ft, enough water to serve about 80,000 households per year.
Deaton said the LAA/California Aqueduct connection will benefit the entire region by enhancing regional water supply reliability. The new Los Angeles Aqueduct connection will increase operational flexibility, particularly during emergencies, by providing an alternate means for the DWR to convey State Water Project entitlement water into Southern California.
The agreement provides for the construction, operation and maintenance of the new connection, which should be under construction later this year.
The LADWP will pay applicable rates to the State Department of Water Resources for use of excess capacity in the California Aqueduct. The water transfer agreement is made possible through the California Water Code, which allows voluntary water transfers between water users. Such transfers of surplus water also help alleviate water shortages, save capital outlay development costs, and conserve water and energy.