BY RYAN SABALOW-The Sacramento Bee , April 30, 2018 02:52 PM
Updated May 01, 2018 08:01 AM
Just six months ago, a major Bay Area water district only would commit about a third of the $650 million Gov. Jerry Brown’s office had hoped it would pay for his controversial Delta tunnels project.
In a sudden reversal, the Santa Clara Valley Water District board now may pay the full amount. The board is scheduled to vote on the issue Wednesday.
The district’s possible change of heart comes less than two weeks after Brown’s Water Commission recommended giving $485 million in funding from the Proposition 1 water bond to pay for building a new reservoir in the Pacheco Pass in southeastern Santa Clara County, a project the Santa Clara district has on its wish list.
The commission’s staff not long ago said the reservoir project hadn’t met the criteria to be eligible for any of the funds.
The timing of Wednesday’s vote — so soon after the Water Commission’s favorable score for Pacheco Pass — has foes of the Delta tunnels project alleging Brown’s office worked behind the scenes to deliver a quid pro quo: funding for a new reservoir in exchange for Santa Clara’s full support for the tunnels.
“There’s definitely too much smoke here to be a coincidence,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla of Restore the Delta.