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$17 billion Delta water tunnels project faces critical MWD vote Tuesday in LA

By in Press Enterprise on October 9, 2017

By Steve Scauzillo

After 11 years of planning, a massive tunnels project touted as a solution to the state’s vulnerable water supply faces its biggest test Tuesday.

The 38-member board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — the largest supplier of treated water in the United States delivering water to agencies serving 19 million people — is scheduled to vote on the $17 billion California WaterFix.

Metropolitan’s staff has waged a campaign in favor of the project for years and is recommending its board ratify the environmental review and also pay 26 percent of the cost, amounting to $4.3 billion. MWD’s wholesale water rates charged to 26 Southern California retail water districts and cities would rise 4.5 percent annually during the 18-year construction period, but the agency says WaterFix only accounts for 1 percent of the increase, with inflation accounting for the rest.

Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Department of Water Resources say the project will make water supplies more reliable, stabilize water flow and protect endangered fish species. The project would include installing three intakes north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and building two, 35-mile concrete diversion tunnels that would move water more efficiently into the State Water Project for cities and the federal Central Valley Project used by farmers.

Southern California gets about 35 percent of its water from Northern California through the 700-mile State Water Project, which includes the California Aqueduct. During the recent five-year drought, the city of Los Angeles took 75 percent of its water from Northern California, said Brown, who visited MWD and the Southern California Association of Governments on Friday to lobby for the project and listen to concerns.

“People were very clear how fundamental this WaterFix is to the well-being of Los Angeles and Southern California,” Brown said during an interview. “A lot of water […]    

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