The Water Storage Improvement Program (WSIP) application is due on August 15, 2017 to the California Water Commission (CWC). The Sites Project Authority committees and contractors tasked with completing the application gave a presentation to board members and interested public members starting with the benefits and financial feasibility portion of the application.
In order to be awarded funds from the water bond, the Commission must understand how Sites will be operated to produce benefits that would warrant the state investing in the project. The Commission instructions are clear, “Eligible projects must also provide measurable benefits to the Delta ecosystem or its tributaries.” and in order to be successful applicants must show what those benefits are and will be.
All benefits must be monetized, benefits that cannot be monetized must be identified. These benefits, such as increased water for endangered fish, along with project costs and risk, will all be items that will be considered in the application process. Applicants must adhere to the 42-page regulation requirements published last year outlining the structure of the application. These measurable benefits are outlined in the executive summary and there are eight points that must be covered to meet the qualifications of the application.
Where does the water go and what does the project yield are models included in the application process. The amount of water that will be diverted, what will be stored and what will evaporate are part of those benefit calculations. Water benefits and deliveries included in the model will show who will use the water and how those benefits will increase water going to agriculture, municipal and endangered species in the form of cold water pools from the years 2031 to 2122 and the percentage of public benefit.
When it is known where the water is going, then the model can calculate the public benefits. Benefits must be quantifiable such as water for fish, power, water to Yolo bypass increasing storage at Oroville, and flood protection. The application includes a 100-year planning horizon with climate change included in the model. The model must also look at all the investors and what the overall benefit cost ratio will be. Each benefit such as flood, hydro, ecosystem and recreation, must be given a dollar allocation.
In addition to the environmental issues, the applicants must show that the project is financially feasible and economically feasible. Questions must be answered in the application as to the ability of the group to put together financing and if the project could be operated to be sustainable with or without the bond funding and how that funding would be secured. One of the requirements for Prop 1 funding, is that the project leverage other dollars with the money coming from the bond.
The CWC is using CalSim for the applicants to analyze the data that will determine public benefits. CalSim is the model used to simulate California State Water Project (SWP)/Central Valley Project (CVP) operations.
Each applicant is required to use this model to show the public benefits of the project. This will allow the CWC to compare each project and how it meets the mandate of the California Water Fix to protect and enhance the Delta. Again, the deadline to submit the application is August 15, 2017 and the Sites Authority must vote to approve the application at their next board meeting in July.
Also included in the presentation was an outline of how the Sites Project could be funded and the addition of powerlines needed to bring power to the pumping stations.