Brown and Caldwell to develop Southern California drought mitigation study

March 2, 2023
The study will evaluate delivery options of Colorado River water and regional storage for equitable water access amid the region’s severe drought.

Brown and Caldwell, an environmental engineering and construction services firm, announced that it has been hired by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Metropolitan) to study alternative water conveyance options to provide a more diverse water supply to the region during severe drought.

In response to drought action planning by Metropolitan in collaboration with its 26 member agencies, the study will identify and evaluate potential conveyance options to move primarily Colorado River water and regional storage supplies from the eastern portion of Metropolitan’s service area to the western portion.

Metropolitan provides water supply for the 19 million people in Southern California.

“This important study aligns with Metropolitan’s commitment to providing reliable water supplies to the entire region,” said Steve Hirai, Brown and Caldwell vice president.

The western portion of the service area includes member agencies that depend heavily on the California State Water Project (SWP), a multi-purpose water storage and delivery system that extends more than 705 miles. SWP-dependent member agencies in the west include the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, the Calleguas Water District, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, served primarily by Metropolitan’s Jensen Water Treatment Plant.

According to Brown and Caldwell, there is currently inadequate pipeline connectivity and operational flexibility between imported water supplies and storage options. There is also a lack of water resource diversity for Metropolitan to satisfy the needs of all its member agencies equitably, especially during a severe shortage of SWP supplies.

As the largest single contractor of the SWP and a major supporter of Southern California water conservation and recycling programs, Metropolitan is looking for feasible alternatives to convey Colorado River Aqueduct supplies or Diamond Valley Lake storage from the eastern portion of its service area — or to convey purified water from Pure Water Southern California to SWP-dependent area agencies in the western portion of its service area.

The study will identify new conveyance options and the potential use of existing pipelines, including required pumping stations. With drought conditions heightened by climate change in mind, the study will consider new additions and modifications to Metropolitan’s infrastructure system to address varying supply scenarios.