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Smaller Water Tunnel Project Means Higher Costs For San Diego

The Sacramento Delta is shown in this picture, Sept. 19, 2017.

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: The Sacramento Delta is shown in this picture, Sept. 19, 2017.

The Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District is abandoning its push for the two-tunnel California WaterFix project, because MWD could not cultivate support from the state’s large agricultural districts.

Instead, the region’s largest water wholesaler will ask its board to approve $5.3 billion for a scaled-back one-tunnel plan.

That’s $1 billion more than the board approved for the two-tunnel plan last year.

The bigger price tag comes about because fewer people are willing to pay.

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Dennis Cushman told KPBS last fall that San Diego water users will pay if MWD approves money for the tunnel project.

“That’s a big issue for our ratepayers in San Diego because ratepayers in San Diego pay about 25 percent of whatever Met spends money on,” said Cushman.

RELATED: California Water: Debating The Delta Tunnel Plan

He called it one of the largest potential capital project commitments in Metropolitan’s history which means it could have a significant financial impact on the bills of local water users.

The tunnel plan is designed to move water from the northern end of the Delta to a pumping plant in the south.

Supporters say the operation could draw water without putting so much pressure on the Delta’s endangered fish species.

Critics argue the plan is too expensive and is only designed to move Northern California water to Southern California.

The plan for two water tunnels under the Sacramento Delta is dead, but the replacement plan with only one tunnel may be more expensive for local water users.

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