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State Water Resources Seeks $4.8M for Operations Center Move

In a budget change proposal, the California Department of Water Resources seeks to fund the Joint Operations Center relocation project, a state-federal partnership. Technology would be a major focus of the project's final eight months.

California Natural Resources Agency headquarters in downtown Sacramento.
California Natural Resources Agency headquarters in downtown Sacramento. It is the umbrella agency for the California Department of Water Resources, which has offices in its headquarters.
California Natural Resources Agency
The state department responsible for managing state water resources, systems, and infrastructure including the State Water Project is asking for nearly $5 million to partially fund the building of a new Joint Operations Center (JOC).

In a budget change proposal (BCP), the California Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) Division of Flood Management (DFM) is asking for $4.8 million for the next phase of its JOC relocation project. DFM needs the funding in the 2023-2024 Fiscal Year starting July 1, it explained, “as this project moves from the planning phase to the construction phase.” According to the BCP, these will be one-time costs to move the center from its current address on El Camino Avenue to a new building. DFM expects the State Water Project, with which it would share the center, to pitch in for about half the center’s funding as well.

Among the takeaways in the BCP:

  • The existing JOC houses state and federal entities that collaborate on managing state and federal water projects and respond to California’s flood emergencies.
  • DFM is DWR’s participating office; the SWP’s participating office is the Division of Operations and Maintenance.
  • The JOC has been used since 1995 and was intended to be an interim facility until DWR built a permanent one. It is now “out of compliance” with the state of California Essential Services Buildings Seismic Safety Act for the Flood Operations Center (FOC), when activated during flood emergencies — meaning “essential criteria cannot be met” in the existing building. Should the FOC be compromised by “earthquake, attack, accident or flood,” the state wouldn’t be able to respond “fully or adequately” to flood or emergency, jeopardizing people and property. The FOC “plays a significant role” in statewide flood response with its director, when necessary, declaring flood alerts to activate the FOC “under the Standardized Emergency Management System.” The state also maintains water operations control centers at the JOC, which deliver water through the SWP and Central Valley Project for urban and agricultural purposes and play a part in flood response.
  • Existing JOC facilities also no longer meet “programmatic space needs or comply with essential service needs and lack enough perimeter setback space” as specified by federal security requirements. The Division of the State Architect granted a 10-year grace period for DWR to meet terms of the Essential Services Act — but that time was up in 2005. Provisional language in the state’s 2018 budget let DGS prepare a request for proposal for “a build-to-suite lease for a new JOC.” DGS is working on behalf of DFM and SWP to “identify a contractor with land in an appropriate location” on which to build the new JOC. A move-in date of 2027 is planned. The funding DFM is seeking is needed, it said, “to provide construction support, materials testing and inspection services.” DFM and SWP are seeking a “new permanent location, ideally with an opportunity for ownership in the facility,” and are asking for a “lease-to-purchase option with the lessor providing a design-build facility” to state-developed criteria.
  • The project will have considerable intersection with technology work. DWR describes the current JOC as being “deficient in technology, space and security needs” and notes that should the project go forward as hoped, “DWR technology staff will be on-site daily” during its final eight months “installing DWR data communications systems.” It points out the state “will benefit from the expenses of relocation funding already approved in FY 2018-19 and FY 2019-20.” However, DFM is now the only partner in the project without secured funding, per the BCP, which notes if it is not able to move, the FOC will operate at less than “maximum efficiency and communication during a major event.”
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.