BREAKING NEWS: UC Davis Joins Water Project

Ground-breaking for the WDCWA
Ground-breaking for the WDCWA

UC Davis moves forward with regional clean water project – In a joint release from the city and UC Davis, it was announced today that UC Davis, “will exercise its option to contract for water from the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Project, continuing its participation in the partnership, campus officials announced today.”

According to the release, when the project is completed, the university will receive 2,000 acre feet of water per year, or about 6 percent of the total available.

“We are very excited that UC Davis has decided to exercise its option to participate in the surface water project,” Davis Mayor Dan Wolk said of the campus announcement. “Continued campus participation reinforces the strong ties between the university, Davis and the greater Yolo community and reduces facility costs for the other partners, particularly the city of Davis,” he said.

Bill Marble, Mayor Pro Tempore of Woodland and current chair of the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Authority, said: “UC Davis’ commitment to the project represents another important milestone for the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency and this critical regional water supply project.  We welcome their continued participation and are confident it will help hold down costs for ratepayers in both communities and contribute to additional future benefits and efficiencies.”

“This is great news,” said Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor, a member of WDCWA Board of Directors. “UC Davis’ leadership during the early planning phase of the surface water project helped make it the reality it is today.  Their full participation further strengthens this important regional effort.”

The project, administered by a joint authority including the cities of Woodland and Davis, UC Davis and Yolo County, will draw and treat water from the Sacramento river and deliver it to both cities and the university, replacing supply from existing groundwater wells. Construction is currently underway for the regional water treatment plant, raw and treated water pipelines and intake facilities.  Construction of local pipelines to deliver the treated water to Davis and UC Davis is set to begin in April 2015, with the first water deliveries by September 2016.

“After extensive analysis and careful consideration, the campus decided to exercise its option” said Sid England, assistant vice chancellor for environmental stewardship and sustainability. “The advantages to the campus are clear, including improved quality of water, less reliance on groundwater, and an additional supply of water far into the future,” he said.  “A high quality, reliable water supply will support campus teaching and research for many generations.”

According to the release, “UC Davis has been a participant in the surface water project since the original filing of a water rights application in 1994. In 2009, the university transferred its water rights to the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency concurrent with an option to receive the treated water back under a contract with the agency. The university has now decided to exercise that option in advance of the project start-up, so that the university can partner with the city of Davis on construction of the required pipelines through the city.”

The new plant will deliver 30 million of gallons of surface water per day.  Approximately 18 million gallons are currently allocated to Woodland and 12 million to Davis. As outlined in the original agreement, UC Davis’ water apportionment will come from the city of Davis’ share.

The capital cost to the university will be $20 million, including both contributions to the overall project and local distribution pipelines. The university’s investment will benefit both cities by reducing overall project costs to the city of Davis by $11 million (about 9 percent) and Woodland’s costs by $1.2 million. In addition to reducing project costs, campus participation is likely to give the city of Davis greater flexibility in how it manages its supply and may enhance the ability to explore alternative water conservation measures.

Davis, Woodland and the UC Davis campus currently receive all their domestic water from groundwater wells. The extended drought has highlighted concerns with a reliance on a single source of water. Using surface water sources brings increased water quality, long-term reliability and flexibility to the overall supply.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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10 thoughts on “BREAKING NEWS: UC Davis Joins Water Project”

  1. Davis Progressive

    “Approximately 18 million gallons are currently allocated to Woodland and 12 million to Davis. As outlined in the original agreement, UC Davis’ water apportionment will come from the city of Davis’ share.
    The capital cost to the university will be $20 million, including both contributions to the overall project and local distribution pipelines. The university’s investment will benefit both cities by reducing overall project costs to the city of Davis by $11 million (about 9 percent) and Woodland’s costs by $1.2 million. ”

    it doesn’t say how much ucd will take in terms of water. but an $11 million savings will be helpful

    1. Don Shor

      Woodland is planning for more water than Davis because they don’t have access to the deep aquifer. Also, they have more houses and fewer apartments.

  2. Tia Will

    This sounds great. However, as I am not the sharpest tool in the shed with regard to financial matters on a city scale, can someone explain to me just what this 11 million in savings will actually mean for the city. Is this money that will not now be needed to be obtained from loans, or from taxes or …… ? Is it money that the city will still collect and then have available for other projects. Just what happens when you “save” 11 million dollars on a joint project ?

    1. Anon

      If the costs of the project are lowered by $11 million, it will be passed on to the customers be reducing the amount of debt service necessary to finance the project.

    1. Matt Williams

      BP, the answer to that question has both a short-term and long-term perspective. The addition of the UCD money will flow into the annual review of the finances of the water district, which will determine if the water district income exceeds its expenses (creates a surplus), and whether the best use of any surplus is to (A) build up Reserves so that the water district’s interest costs come down, (B) pay for planned capital infrastructure maintenance with cash rather than debt, (C) avoid taking on planned debt, (D) retire existing debt, (E) reduce rates for the ratepayers for a limited 12-month period, or (F) some combination of those five options. If they are done right (B) and (C) and (D) mean permanently reduced interest costs for the system. So the mix of (A), (B), (C), (D) and (E) should be chosen to maximize the long-term return to the ratepayers. Paul Brady has been lobbying for an acceleration of (E) and it would appear that you agree with him, but that only makes sense if the cost savings from (A), (B), (C) and (D) is minimal.

      On a regular, periodic basis, the URAC, possibly in concert with the Finance and Budget Commission should weigh the options in an open, transparent and informed way.

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