The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) approved a proposal to cover nearly $11 billion of a total $17 billion bill to build Gov. Jerry Brown’s twin Delta tunnels project on Tuesday evening.
The MWD, which serves Southern California, will attempt to recoup the costs by selling water to regional users, which should make more water available to households and consumers but at higher rates.
Local farming districts that were expected to support had the costs declined.
The Los Angeles Times notes that the vote “helps clear the path for an overhaul that MWD’s influential staff has insisted is vital to sustaining deliveries that make up roughly a third of the Southland’s water supply.”
In addition to providing a more reliable water supply to the state from the San Joaquin Delta, the project is aimed at helping farmers by compensating for lower allocations from existing state and federal water programs in recent years.
Those allocations have been cut — sometimes to zero — because of drought and because of efforts by environmentalists, through the federal courts, to project a three-inch baitfish known as the Delta smelt.
Environmentalists argue that the dwindling population of Delta smelt in the wild is due to the increasing salinity of the San Joaquin Delta, owing to the diversion of snowmelt and rainwater to agricultural use. However, farmers counter that there could be other reasons for the fish’s decline.
The Delta tunnels project still faces steep regulatory hurdles, and has already run into doubts about its financial viability.
As Breitbart News reported earlier this year, various proposals for saving the project included reducing the number of tunnels from two to one. However, the proposal adopted by the MWD preserves the original two-tunnel model.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.