Water Agency Re-Approves $11B for California Twin Tunnels

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A bend in the Sacramento River near Courtland, California, where one of three new intakes is proposed for the state’s huge water diversion tunnel project. (Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee)

California’s largest water agency has re-approved a nearly $11 billion plan to fund two enormous tunnels that would be the centerpiece of Gov. Jerry Brown’s ambitious project to remake the state water system.

The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday repeated a vote it cast in April because of concerns about the legality of the earlier decision.

The environmental group Food and Water Watch and the watchdog First Amendment Coalition questioned whether the MWD violated the state’s open-meeting law through behind-the-scenes campaigning among board members.

MWD officials denied wrongdoing but agreed to recast the vote.

The agency will bear most of the cost of the twin-tunnel project that would modernize the aging infrastructure that delivers water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta throughout the state.