News Feature | April 4, 2018

Los Angeles Threatens Delta Tunnels Project

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

los angeles reg new

L.A. concerned about 'WaterFix' costs

Los Angeles is taking a firm position on the proposed Delta tunnels project: If city residents must pay more than their fair share, the city will oppose the deal.

The city council moved in March to “officially oppose staged construction of a proposed multibillion-dollar water-delivery tunnel project if it would result in greater costs or a greater portion of the financial burden for Los Angeles ratepayers,” The Los Angeles Daily News reported.

State water managers initially intended to build two major tunnels as part of the project, which is known as “California WaterFix.” However, a $17 billion budget shortfall prompted them to rein in the plan. Officials stated in February that they will apply a “staged construction” approach, starting with one tunnel. The scaled-back project will cost $10.7 billion.

However, major stakeholders are concerned about the cost of the project in its latest iteration.

“The City Council’s 13-0 vote directs the city’s chief legislative analyst, if necessary, to draft a resolution opposing the [Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s] involvement in the project if the proposal for adoption by its board of directors results in a larger financial burden or greater portion of the financial burden for Los Angeles ratepayers,” CBS Los Angeles reported.

City Councilwoman Nury Martinez described how the project looks from an LA perspective.

“I’ve been concerned about what [the project] means for LA ratepayers, whether that means that we are paying our fair share, because we are also talking about focusing on developing more local water sources,” she stated, per the Daily News.

In a nutshell, an explanation of the Delta tunnel proposal: Governor Jerry Brown “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Backers of the Delta tunnels proposal say it is a "state-of-the-art" solution to California’s water problems, including out-of-date infrastructure and risks to the water supply. Environmental risks and the sheer cost of the project are among its major criticisms.

Image credit: "Los Angeles at Night from the Griffith Observatory," @andrewghayes © 2010, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/