The board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has approved additional funding of $10.8bn for the construction of the $16.7bn, full California WaterFix project to modernise the state’s ageing water delivery system.
The additional funding will make Metropolitan the primary investor in the project and more than double the agency’s initially planned investment to ensure the project is completed on schedule.
Metropolitan board chairman Randy Record said: “For decades, we have sought a solution to the problems of the Bay Delta, problems that put Southern California’s water supply at risk.
“We finally have that solution, California WaterFix. We simply could not jeopardise the opportunity to move this long-sought and much-needed project forward.”
People and businesses will pay for the water that WaterFix helps deliver via the retail water agencies and cities that serve those customers.
Metropolitan’s financing is expected to cost households on average up to $4.80 a month, which is likely to be reduced as Metropolitan recovers some of its investments from the agricultural sector.
Metropolitan will sell or lease capacity in the tunnels to allow water deliveries or exchanges for other parties.
About 30% of the water in Southern California comes from Northern California via the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, but the delivery system is outdated and attempts to help the Delta have led to regulatory restrictions, reducing water exports from the region.
Under the WaterFix project, three new water intakes would be built in the northern Delta and two tunnels to carry the water under the Delta to the existing aqueduct systems in the southern Delta that deliver water to cities and farms.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving nearly 19 million people in six counties.
The district imports water from the Colorado river and Northern California to supplement local supplies.