Apr 11, 2018

California WaterFix Project Moves Forward

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will pay $11 billion

California WaterFix project moving forward with $11 billion price tag

Following a vote late on April 10, 2018, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) will provide nearly $11 billion towards the completion of California’s “WaterFix” project. The project will seek to build two tunnels under a delta in order to bring water sourced from the Sacramento River to the Central Valley and Southern California.

One of the aims of the project is to prevent drought in the region and to make supplies more reliable. However, significant dissent towards the project also exists, with some claiming the tunnels would harm water quality and negatively affect salmon life in the delta.

“We’ve been taking out 50% of the water when science tells us we should be taking out 25%,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. “And so, how do you make up for that water? You build the recycling projects in Southern California. You do mass conservation and recycling, and put in the water-reuse infrastructure and programs, and really get efficient with water use.”

Alternatives to the approved plan were also floated, including a more modest option of only a single tunnel being built, which would have had a price tag around $5 billion. Taxpayers in Southern California are also skeptical that the new project would result in any significant increase of water brought to the region, claiming the primary benefits would go to the Central Valley. Adam Scow, California director of the nonprofit group Food and Water Watch believes this project only marks a shift in control of the water.

“Whether it’s the one tunnel or the two-tunnel, it’s a colossal waste of money for Southern California,” Scow said. “We’re talking about billions of dollars to essentially deliver the same water that Southern California is already getting from the delta. It’s simply a money grab and a power grab by the Metropolitan Water District.”

MWD will likely have to fight for the decision in courts and will seek outside financiers and water districts to aid in the completion of the project.