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Water Wholesaler Poised To Vote On Delta Tunnel Plan

Reeds line the bank of the Sacramento Delta in this picture, Sept. 19, 2017.

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: Reeds line the bank of the Sacramento Delta in this picture, Sept. 19, 2017.

The Metropolitan Water District Board in Los Angeles is scheduled to take a crucial vote Tuesday on whether to support a plan to build two massive tunnels underneath the Sacramento Delta.

The $17 billion project promises to help maintain the flow of water from the state water project by easing pressure on endangered fish populations in the delta.

Three new water intakes on the Sacramento River north of the delta would work in conjunction with the existing pump at the southern end of the delta.

Two 35-mile-long tunnels would carry the water under the Delta to the southern pump.

RELATED: California Water: Debating The Delta Tunnel Plan

Los Angeles based Metropolitan Water District officials say the tunnels allow water managers to sidestep some seasonal water pumping restrictions.

"When the salmon is coming down the Sacramento River use the existing pumps. When the Delta smelt spawn in the southern end of the delta, then go to the new pumps. That helps with overall protection, but it helps us in terms of our supply reliability so that we're not subjected to further cutbacks," said Steve Arakawa of the Metropolitan Water District.

Metropolitan is voting whether to spend more than $4 billion on the project, increasing local water bills by $2 to $3 a month.

The influential Westlands Water District already rejected paying a $3 billion share saying that's too much money for its farmers.

The Kern County Water Agency, another major water project customer, is expected to weigh in on the project on Thursday.

The Delta Tunnel plan got a blistering rebuke from the state's auditor late last week.

A review of the project found huge cost increases and delays in the project's planning.

The 91-page report also pointed out that backers have yet to produce proof that the project is financially viable.

The Metropolitan Water District Board in Los Angeles takes a crucial vote Tuesday on whether to support a plan to build two massive tunnels underneath the Sacramento Delta.

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