Ag Today May 9, 2018

San Jose water agency approves up to $650 million for Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels project

By PAUL ROGERS | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: May 8, 2018 at 1:35 pm | UPDATED: May 9, 2018 at 4:34 am

In a significant boost for Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion plan to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Delta to more easily move water south, Silicon Valley’s largest water agency Tuesday endorsed the project and voted to commit up to $650 million to help pay for it.

With a 4-3 vote after a packed four-hour meeting, the Santa Clara Valley Water District reversed a decision it made in October to oppose the two-tunnel project.

Unions and Silicon Valley’s largest business group recommended a yes vote, while environmental groups, Delta residents and the majority of speakers urged a no vote. Critics argued the project would harm wildlife and water quality in the Delta and San Francisco Bay, while also putting ratepayers of Santa Clara Valley at risk for cost overruns similar to those that occurred on the Bay Bridge and high-speed rail projects. The district’s staff said the project would cost the average ratepayer $10.26 a month in higher water bills by 2033.

Immediately after the vote, Brown praised the district for supporting the controversial tunnels plan, which along with high-speed rail is viewed as one of his legacy projects.

“Simply put, this courageous decision will help two million Santa Clarans have a more reliable water supply,” the governor said.

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