Projects Will Increase Water and Improve Flood Control
California’s recently approved Proposition 13 will be a boon for San Diego businesses, which over the next few years could see a large share of $1.9 billion in bond money to improve the state’s waterways.
That’s according to Bill Jacoby, water resources manager with the County Water Authority. Bond money would fund several important projects to improve the delivery of water to San Diego.
This makes more water available and also cheaper, benefiting not only local agriculture, but also San Diego’s high-tech industries. Some Sorrento Valley firms require high-quality water for their medical research and electronic work, Jacoby said.
During the drought, when San Diego was faced with the potential of significant cuts in water availability, San Diego had trouble attracting business, Jacoby said.
“This is part of the Water Authority’s effort to increase water reliability and make businesses more comfortable with locating and expanding here,” he said.
One of the most prominent water projects on tap for the San Diego area is $5 million for flood control in the city of Santee, Jacoby said.
The city will be widening the drainage channel at Forester Creek, which flows into the San Diego River. Proposition 13 money will pay for a portion of the total cost, currently estimated to be at about $15 million, said Dan York, senior civil engineer with the city of Santee.
Flood Control Improvements
Once the project is built, it will greatly increase the capacity of the creek. This will lower insurance rates in the city and prevent flooding of several busy streets in Santee, which has slowed down emergency vehicles in the past, York said.
Highway 52 is scheduled to be extended across Forester Creek. With the improvements in place, Caltrans can construct the highway through the area at less cost, York said.
Proposition 13 will also provide $3 million to augment an ongoing study looking into a joint San Diego-Tijuana water pipeline to better convey Colorado River water into the region.
Richard Pyle, principal engineer for the project, said the study will be completed by summer 2001. The study will determine if it’s feasible to construct a pipeline through the Imperial Valley to the coast, and if there is any benefit in making it a binational project.
The pipeline would move 300,000 acre-feet of water to San Diego, and about 100,000 acre-feet of water to Tijuana. The pipeline would either run on one side of the border or the other, or straddle the border, Pyle said.
Proposition 13 also provides $110 million for water recycling projects.
By law, 60 percent of that amount must be spent in Southern California, and San Diego should get the lion’s share since the area has been very aggressive in pursuing recycled water, Jacoby said.
Another $60 million will be spent statewide on replacing worn-out water pipes in low-income neighborhoods. Southern California will get 60 percent of the money, and San Diego should capture a good chunk of it, Jacoby said.
Even money spent out of the area will benefit San Diego.
For example, some Proposition 13 funds will be set aside for environmental repair to the Bay Delta. Since northern California water destined for San Diego must first move through the Delta, that water sometimes gets lost due to the environmental damage in the Delta, and instead goes out into the San Francisco Bay, Jacoby said.
Valerie Nera, director for agriculture and resources for the California Chamber of Commerce, said all the counties in the state will benefit from Proposition 13.
It makes 1 million acre-feet of new water available, which will help the state prepare for the 15 million people coming into California by 2020.