Tuesday, one of the state’s largest farm water districts voted 7 to 1, not to move forward with funding for Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed, Twin Tunnel Project.
It would have brought water from Northern California to Southern California through tunnels built underneath the Delta.
It was a very passionate meeting between boardmembers and farmers in a vote that could kill the plan. Boardmemebers say the governors project would cost more than $17 billion. The district would have been on the hook for as much as $3 billion.
The debate over Westlands deciding whether or not to participate in the project lasted well over an hour. Westlands Water District voted not to approve Gov.Brown’s proposal.
“The decision was not to participate in the California Waterfix due to the cost and uncertainty concerning the water supply that would be created by this project,” Tom Birminghan, general manager for Westlands Water District, said.
Many board members uneasy about taking such a big risk that could cost the district billions of dollars and not guarantee a positive outcome.
“I’m personally very open to finding a way to move water to move south I think it’s critical to our future of our country but we have to do it in a way that works for all the stake holders,” William Bourdeau, exec. vice president for Harris Farms, said.
Farmers say they’ve been waiting years to receive some sort of water plan to help their farms and say the state government fell short when it came to shouldering the financial load.
“It’s too bad that our government can’t partner with us to shelter us from some of the risk and they just want to lay this whole project where they’ve been consitantly where they’ve not met their prior obligations which makes me think they won’t meet these,” Will Coit of Coit Ranch, said.
Environmentalists said they’re glad with the outcome and say it’s better for the Delta.
“It’s a great day for California that Westlands has decided that they will not participate in California Waterfix, as it is written and that because it is a doomed project, it will finish off the Delta through construction impacts and the amount of water being taking out,” Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, exec. dir. of Restore The Delta.
Westlands is one of the biggest water districts in the state and the first district to vote on the project.
Managers of other large water districts in California are saying it’s unlikely the project will be able to go forward after Tuesdays critical vote.