FRESNO — The board of the nation's largest irrigation district on Tuesday rejected participation in Gov. Jerry Brown's $16 billion plan to build two giant tunnels to re-engineer California's north-south water delivery system, dealing a major blow to the project.
The board of Westlands Water District, a key player in the project's success or failure, voted 7-1 against the project after more than an hour of tense discussion and comments from farmers, many of whom concluded the tunnels were too expensive.
The district already has invested millions of dollars toward planning but had not committed to shouldering a share of the hefty construction costs.
Westlands general manager Thomas Birmingham said he believes the no vote in Fresno could kill the tunnels project.
"This thing dies, the project will be over," he said.