The Fix Is In?

CA Water Fix Vote Coming Fast at MWD

by Bruce Reznik

Debate around Governor Brown’s proposed California Water Fix, also known as the twin tunnels, is starting to heat up in Southern California with a key vote on the project scheduled in Los Angeles on September 12. Reviving the failed peripheral canal that was rejected by California voters in 1982, the Brown Administration is now proposing two massive (40-foot) tunnels, buried 15 stories underground, to take water from the Sacramento River and move it 35 miles around the eastern edge of the San Joaquin-San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary before it is delivered to major agricultural users in Central California and urban centers in Southern California. The largest U.S. water project in decades, the Governor estimated the project will cost more than $17 billion, though others estimate the final price tag at more than $50 billion when factoring in financing and expected cost overruns.


The so-called California Water Fix would continue California’s antiquated, expensive, energy-intensive and (in an increasingly climate-impacted world) ultimately unreliable pump-and dump approach to water. It will raise local ratepayer bills without providing any additional water to the Los Angeles region. Importantly, it will also divert critical resources away from sustainable, equitable and reliable local water options, such as those noted in Mayor Garcetti’s Sustainable City pLAn, which calls for reducing the purchase of imported water by 50% by 2025.

In anticipation of a final vote to determine whether Southern California ratepayers will be on the hook for the prohibitively expensive project, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) has started issuing a series of white papers and holding workshops on various aspects of the project. A crowd of environmental and community leaders and concerned residents packed the room for the first hearing of MWD’s Special Committee on Bay-Delta Water Planning and Stewardship on July 10. With the next workshop (on operations) slated for July 25, things will really heat up with the release of the white paper and subsequent August 14 workshop on the financing plan, and ultimately the planned September 12 vote on the project.

White Paper Topics Metropolitan Board/Committee Meeting Meeting Date
Operations Special Comm. on Bay-Delta Water Planning + Stewardship July 25
Finance/Cost Allocation Special Comm. on Bay-Delta Water Planning + Stewardship August 14
Board Workshop* August 22
Board Action* September 12

MWD’s September 12 vote whether or not SoCal residents will fund the Fix will cement this project for good. That means Angelenos are in a critical position—our involvement now can prevent the Brown Administration from doing irreversible economic and ecological damage to California’s water.

We encourage everyone to speak up against this unnecessary, expensive project. Follow this important process, attend workshops and hearings to make your voice heard, and contact your MWD representative.

Follow our friends at Food & Water Watch and Restore the Delta to keep updated. More information on this boondoggle can be found here. Stay tuned for more opportunities to get involved.

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