The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will provide additional financing for the construction of the two-tunnel California WaterFix project as part of plans to modernise the outdated water delivery system in the state.
The Metropolitan’s board has authorised $10.8bn for the construction of the two tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, making Metropolitan the primary investor in the $16.7bn project.
In April, Metropolitan’s board took a similar vote, prompting two organisations to send a notice alleging violation of the Brown Act in connection with that meeting.
However, Metropolitan disagreed with its legal conclusion and provided documents in response to a related California Public Records Act request.
But, the board voted on the matter again to ensure there is no question concerning the validity of the board’s decision to authorise increased funding of California WaterFix.
In October 2017, the board had initially voted to participate in WaterFix and contribute nearly $4.3bn (26%) of its $17bn cost.
The board chose to help finance the full 9,000ft³/s project, as most federal agricultural contractors who also import supplies via the Delta have not yet committed to invest in the project, leaving part of the project’s costs unfunded.
Metropolitan intends to recover a portion of the investment from agricultural interests and others once the project is completed.
California WaterFix will be paid for by those who use the water it helps deliver through the retail water agencies and cities that serve those customers.
Metropolitan will sell or lease capacity in the tunnels to allow water deliveries, transfers or exchanges for other parties.
Under the California WaterFix project, three new water intakes will be built in the northern Delta and two tunnels that will provide high-quality water and reduce impacts to fish.
The project will also help restore and protect up to 15,600 acres of Delta habitat as mitigation for ongoing construction and operational impacts.
Image: An aerial view of the path of the proposed tunnels in the Delta on November 1, 2017. Photo: courtesy of State of California.