"$20 Billion: The Delta Tunnel’s New Price Tag"

"The centerpiece of California’s water wars pits Gov. Newsom against local communities and environmentalists. A new report says the benefits of the tunnel exceed the cost since other water supplies would cost more."

"California’s contentious and long-debated plan to replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and pump more water south finally has a price tag: about $20 billion.

The new estimate for the Delta tunnel project — which would transform the massive water system that sends Northern California water south to farms and cities — is $4 billion higher than a 2020 estimate, largely because of inflation.

Included is almost $1.2 billion to offset local harms and environmental damage, such as impacts on salmon and rare fish that state officials have called “potentially significant.”

The goal of the project is to collect and deliver more water to two-thirds of California’s population and 750,000 acres of farmland during wet periods, shore up supplies against the threats of climate change and protect the system from earthquakes.

But environmental groups and many Delta residents have long warned that the tunnel could put the imperiled Delta ecosystem at even greater risk, sapping freshwater flows needed for fish, farms and communities in the region."

Rachel Becker reports for CalMatters May 16, 2024.

Source: CalMatters, 05/17/2024