$11 billion approval includes building two massive tunnels. The approval committed by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The water delivers from the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta to the Southland.
The approval pushes ahead a controversial infrastructure project that has dominated discussions of how to stop the delta’s steep ecological decline. The decline has threatened water deliveries to Los Angeles.
A top priority of Gov. Jerry Brown‘s administration, the tunnels project has been in the planning stages for more than a decade. The project has yet to obtain key permits and faces years of legal challenges as it is considered costly.
The vote capped months of back and forth over tunnel financing, which emerged as a make-or-break issue for water projects proposed in California in decades.
Ultimately two options emerged: Build a one-tunnel version that would be financed by MWD and the mostly urban districts that get delta water deliveries from the State Water Project. Or have MWD pay for roughly two-thirds of the twin tunnel project, with other districts.
The board’s twin-tunnel supporter, led by the Municipal Water District of Orange County, argued that building the full project would give more flexibility in running delta operations, provide greater capacity to divert water during high flows.
The tunnels are designed to lessen those impacts and thus avert further export restrictions. The vote authorizes MWD to fund roughly two-thirds of the full tunnel project, or $10.8 billion.