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Metropolitan Water District Put LA Residents on the Hook for $4.7 Billion

The Delta Tunnels project is moving forward against all logic.

The Delta Tunnels project, Governor Jerry Brown’s handout to corporate agriculture and the fracking industry being euphemistically sold as the “California Water Fix,” just won’t die. For a quick recap, you can read my overview of this environmental horrorshow here.

California voters rejected it in the ’80s when it was known as the Peripheral Canal, then it stalled again around 2009, this time known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, when the US Fish and Wildlife Service would not issue permits for the project, but this iteration has been flying under the radar. No one knows about it. Just as troubling, no one wants to pay for the most expensive water project in California history. The budget is so flimsy as to be nonexistent, the Central Valley cash-crop farmers who will benefit haven’t committed any money, earlier this month the Westlands Water District voted not to put in any of their money, an independent audit found vast misappropriations of funds, and the whole thing appeared ready to fall apart.

Enter the Metropolitan Water District, a board of unelected bureaucrats earning >$250k a year each, and tasked with spending your money. MWD expenses are a direct pass-through to the LA Department of Water and Power and other local agencies that buy water, so whatever MWD spends is simply added to the bills paid by ratepayers — that is, residents.

Back in August, the Sacramento Bee reported that “ the [law]suits are gushing in” to stop the project, and even after a $100,000 donation from the Resnick family — the tunnels’ primary beneficiary — Mayor Eric Garcetti rejected the current proposal in favor of a tepid one-tunnel solution. Yet in this flood of uncertainty, the MWD decided to commit at a minimum $4.7 billion of your money.

MWD’s arrogant, naked corporate-servitude does not guarantee that the Delta Tunnels will be built, but it does mean this relic of the past will keep limping forward.