BRENTWOOD -- Just six months after the Contra Costa Water District expanded the capacity of Los Vaqueros Reservoir, the reservoir for the first time has topped 100,000 acre-feet of water.

Last July, the district completed the $118 million expansion project, adding 34 feet to the Brentwood dam's height and enlarging the reservoir's capacity by 60 percent from 100,000 acre-feet to 160,000 acre-feet.

"The wet winter has given us an opportunity to pump more high-quality water into the reservoir and begin to use the additional storage capacity at Los Vaqueros," said the district's board president, Joseph Campbell. "Just six months after we completed the project, we are already seeing benefits for our customers from this additional storage."

When it started operating in 1997, Los Vaqueros became an off-stream reservoir that stores high-quality water pumped from the Delta for the district's customers. The reservoir's added storage boosts the district's water quality and supply, according to district spokeswoman Jennifer Allen.

"The most important benefit for customers having the additional storage is the added reliability having a source of high-quality water available when we are subject to extended dry years," Allen said. "Experiencing dry periods is part of living in California, and storing water is an effective way to weather the dry years."

The dam construction, which started in 2011, was finished ahead of schedule because of late rains last winter. This year, Allen said that early rains provided fresh Delta waters to pump and store in the reservoir.


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"If wet water year conditions continue, we could add another 50,000 acre-feet and be at full by the end of 2013," she said. "If we have dry conditions the rest of the winter and spring, we might only get another 30,000 acre-feet."

The district may also partner with other Bay Area water agencies to provide storage at the centrally located Los Vaqueros Reservoir. When the Delta's water quality is poor, Allen said the additional storage will give the district more ability to balance it out by blending water from Los Vaqueros.

For more details, go to www.ccwater.com.

Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174.