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Bill to help build surface water plant passes committee
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Legislation authored by state Senator Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, to improve local water supply has passed another important milestone. SB 373 passed the Assembly Committee on Local Government on July 12 in a unanimous, bi-partisan vote. It now goes to the Assembly Floor for a final vote on its journey to Gov. Brown for signature and becoming law.

Senate Bill 373 would assist the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority in building a water supply project by allowing the Stanislaus water purveyor to use the design-build method on their Regional Surface Water Supply Project, which would provide drinking water from the Tuolumne River for the cities of Ceres and Turlock. Ceres City Manager Toby Wells testified in favor of the bill the prior day. State law does not allow a Joint Powers Authority to use the design-build method, probably because of prior labor group opposition, commented Wells. A lobbyist helped the JPA win passage in both houses in Sacramento, he said.

“Obviously, it helps having two legislators here locally in support of this,” said Wells.

In theory, the design-build construction process will save money.

“The theory is you spend less time on the front end … you do less design and more construction and fix your design issues as you’re building it,” said Wells. “It’s hard to really say how much it saves you but for a project of that size, even a 10 percent savings, you’re talking a couple hundred million dollars. And it allows you to get there faster.”

“Water is a precious resource in California, and with the drought still fresh in our minds, this bill will ensure our local agencies have the tools to manage it wisely,” said Cannella. “It cannot be stressed enough that the sustainability of our water supply is critical to the future of California’s agriculture as well as our domestic needs.

“This measure is important in preparing for the future population and economic growth of my district, and I am encouraged that my colleagues recognize its merits,” said Cannella.