PWD extension

STILL FLOWING — The Palmdale Water District relies on water from Northern California shipped via the California Aqueduct, seen at left, for half or more of its water supply. The district recently agreed to extend its contract with the state Department of Water Resources for the State Water Project water for another 50 years, to 2085.

PALMDALE —  In a step to secure water supplies well into the future, the Palmdale Water District Board of Directors unanimously approved extending the contract for water imported from Northern California for another 50 years, to 2085.

The contract with the state Department of Water Resources for State Water Project water is a “principle and foundational part of our water supply,” Jon Pernula, PWD water and energy resources director, said in recommending the contract extension during the Jan. 28 meeting.

The State Water Project, which brings Northern California water south via the California Aqueduct, accounts for 50% or more of the district’s water supply, Pernula said. It is becoming especially important as a result of the court settlement that sets limits on groundwater pumping for the Antelope Valley.

“It’s important for us to continue with the state water contract,” he said. “This is something we have to do. It’s the baseline on our surface water supply.”

The current contract, which applies to water agencies statewide who receive water from the State Water Project, expires in 2035. With that termination date, financing bonds for necessary repairs and improvements becomes more expensive, because the payback period extends only to the end of the contract.

“It will really drive the costs of the State Water Project up,” he said.

With the 50-year extension, the current debt load can be stretched out beyond the existing 16 years and it will also facilitate further replacement, repairs and upgrade.

“The extension is strictly a financial consideration,” Pernula said.

In addition, the extension covers some restructuring on how the project is billed and on oversight over how money is spent. It does not, however, change the project physically.

The contract extension is identical for all State Water Project contractors and the majority are signing it, Pernula said.

The extension itself has been negotiated over several years and vetted through “the greatest herd of lawyers in the state of California,” he said. “Each item has been through the fine-tooth comb many, many, many times.”

“I think it’s critical this Board adopts this resolution to ensure that water supply and reliability continues to be available to this section of the AV,” Director Robert Alvarado said.

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