News Feature | August 22, 2017

California Tunnels Project Will Mean Rate Increases

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

rain farm reg new

The controversial Delta tunnels water infrastructure project supported by California Governor Jerry Brown is expected to raise water bills for customers in parts of the state.

“More than 6 million Southern Californian households could pay $3 more a month to help cover” the cost of boring “two huge tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta,” The Sacramento Bee reported.

General Manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Jeffrey Kightlinger offered a positive take on the estimated rate hike. He noted the estimated hike is cheaper than previous projections, the report said.

“Given the importance of this project to maintain water supply reliability for the region, these are encouraging numbers,” Kightlinger said. “It also goes to show the ability of the Southland region to fund major infrastructure projects by pooling our resources.”

Metropolitan estimates that it will pay about 26 percent of the overall cost of the project, according to a blog post by Kightlinger. The utility recently released a white paper analyzing the Delta tunnels project. The utility sells water to member agencies serving 19 million people.

It is a critical moment for the Delta tunnels project.

“After a decade of preliminary planning, urban and agricultural agencies that would receive water from the tunnels have been weighing whether they’re going to pay for the $17.1 billion project,” the report said.

In a nutshell, here is an explanation of the Delta tunnel proposal: “He wants a handful of California water districts to build the twin, 35-mile-long water tunnels to pipe Northern California's water to Central and Southern California,” the Associated Press reported.

Backers of the Delta tunnels proposal say it is a "state-of-the-art" solution to California’s water problems, including out-of-date infrastructure and risks to the water supply.

Costs are a major concern about the project. An influential group of San Joaquin Valley farmers remains “unconvinced the controversial project will deliver the water they need at a price they’re prepared to swallow,” the Bee reported last month.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Water Scarcity Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Rains a Comin," Malcolm Carlaw © 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: