MWD Approves Full Funding for Twin Tunnels;
Restore the Delta Responds
After a week of flip-flopping between two tunnels or one tunnel for now, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) approved construction funding for the twin tunnels today. The twin tunnels, formally dubbed as the “CA WaterFix,” is a controversial dual conveyance system that would divert Sacramento River water through two 4,500 cfs, 35 mile-long, 40 feet in diameter tunnels dug 150 feet under the Delta to send water south.
The MWD board of directors agreed to commit $10.8 billiion or possibly more without a spending cap to cover 64.6 percent (or more) of the upfront construction costs of the $17 billion project.
Restore the Delta’s executive director, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said,
“We may have lost the battle today, but Prop 218 and Prop 26 violations will lead to more litigation where we will win the war. Today’s decision to issue a blank check to MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger for project construction marks day one of the next fifteen years of water wars in the courts where we are determined to prevail. Litigation is a form of collaboration, and we look forward to continuing this work with our partners to protect and preserve the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, its wildlife, and its people.
“Despite MWD’s approval to fund 64.6 percent or more of the twin tunnels total costs, it is still unclear as to who will be financing the remainder of the project after Central Valley Project contractors said they would not fund the project, and Santa Clara Valley Water District voted to only participate in a one tunnel project. Without major State Water Project and Central Valley Project contractors on board, MWD will have to recruit private investors to create a private-public partnership—a clear attempt to undo protections of California water as a public trust resource. Without private investors, MWD’s ability to spend more than $10.8 billion on project costs could further burden Southern Californians with even higher tax increases than currently presented.