BREAKING: Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Split-Vote to Support Twin Tunnels Pivots from October Declaration
SAN JOSE – This afternoon, the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) board of directors voted to support the Twin Tunnels megaproject. The board did not commit to a specific cost share today, but plans to revisit the proposed $650 million financial commitment at a later date.
The Board voted 4-3 in support of the tunnels, with board directors Keegan, Kremen, Estremera, and Hsueh in support, while Director Varela, Vice Chair LeZotte, and Chair Santos opposed the project.
This afternoon’s decision goes against the board’s October resolution to only support a single tunnel project.
Executive Director of Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said,
“Last October, the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) board of directors walked away from the twin tunnels because they felt that there were still too many unknowns, and that hasn’t changed. The laundry list of unknowns spans from an incomplete project design to unfinished geotechnical borings, missing engineering analyses related to seismic studies and Delta gas wells, a not-yet-finished revision of the final supplemental Environmental Impact Report, no water affordability analysis, and incomplete air quality permitting and mitigation. That will not be clearer to Santa Clara Valley when they deal with the next fifteen years of litigation that will disrupt this project.
“This afternoon we heard Santa Clara Valley Board directors express that they believe in Government and trust the process. But we believe that in order to trust Government, decision-makers must be held accountable. Over the last two weeks, the public has organized to make phone calls, text messages, emails, and comments before the board to do their civic duty to hold this board and the Department of Water Resources (DWR) accountable. We have worked extensively to attempt to stop litigation and to focus on positive solutions for Delta and state water management, but DWR, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), and Governor Brown insist on forcing the project on Californians. Litigation is a form of collaboration, and the next chapter of this fight that is far from over.
“Currently, the project has $650 million from SCVWD, $1 billion from Kern County Water Authority, and $10.8 billion from MWD, which totals around $12.4 billion—meaning that the $16.8 billion project is still short by over $4 billion. If Central Valley Project contractors don’t fill that gap, tunnels proponents will have to recruit private investors to create a public-private partnership and/or increase property taxes in Santa Clara County and the greater Los Angeles area. When the project inevitably faces increased cost overruns and delays, Santa Clara County ratepayers will be paying more than $10.26 a month, and Los Angeles residents will be paying more than $5 a month.”