State exploring twin tunnels project alternatives

Jan 16, 2018

The Brown Administration is considering building one Delta tunnel instead of two, as part of a plan to send more Northern California water south.

Last Friday, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) sent out a memo to engineering firms and other contract bidders to submit their qualifications for implementing California Water Fix. The memo states DWR is evaluating ways to carry out the project, which could include a scaled down one tunnel build instead of two.

Jeffrey Mount with the Public Policy Institute of California says a one tunnel project has both positive and negative ramifications.

“You lose some of the flexibility that you would of had with two tunnels. The ability to take big gulps when you want to minimize the impacts of pumping,” Mount said.

Mount said the positive is that one tunnel would cost a lot less, dependent on how big it is. Currently, the DWR estimates, "the cost to fix California’s primary water delivery system is estimated at $14.9 billion - or about $5 a month for urban water users – and will be paid for by public water agencies that rely on the supplies," according to project details listed on the California Natural Resources Agency website.

Even though funding problems became clear last fall, California Natural Resources Agency officials say no decision has been made yet to change the project.