[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
69°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
August 22
1891 - Future First Lady Lou Henry (Hoover), 17, poses for photo at R.E. Nickel's Acton store [story]
Lou Henry


By Nick Cahill, Courthouse News

SACRAMENTO (CN) — The Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District, the country’s largest water district, on Tuesday cemented support for California Governor Jerry Brown’s contentious Bay Delta water project, agreeing to pay an estimated $4.3 billion, primarily through rate hikes on millions of Southern Californians.

The MWD’s decision to fund up to 25.9 percent of the $17 billion California WaterFix, which would divert water from the West Coast’s largest estuary through two 40-foot-wide 35-mile-long tunnels, comes as a boost to a project beset by environmental and financial uncertainties.

A No vote likely would have forced major changes to the controversial plan to replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Most board members, some of whom attended a private meeting with Brown last week, agreed that the project is necessary to update California’s water infrastructure and prepare it for earthquakes and climate change.

Brown’s last-ditch lobbying efforts before Tuesday’s vote paid off: After nearly three hours of public comment and discussion, the district voted 28 to 6 in favor of committing to the water project that could take up to 20 years to complete.

Officials promised that MWD, which supplies water to more than 19 million residents, is fully committed to the mammoth public works project.

“This is not intended to be a symbolic vote; this is intended to be an action vote,” said Jeff Kightlinger, MWD district general manager.

According to the district’s financial estimates, ratepayers in cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego could see rate increases of up to $3.10 a month. Kightlinger reiterated that the district has no plans to raise property taxes to pay for its share of the WaterFix.

The vote brings new life to the tunnels after the state’s largest agricultural water supplier voted against paying for the plan. Last month the Westlands Water District unexpectedly voted to back out of the project due to concerns that the accompanying water cost increases would be too much for its 700 farms.

Critics speculated that Metropolitan and other urban water suppliers would be on the hook for the farming district’s unfulfilled portion, and urged the district not to commit to the water project.

Liza Tucker, advocate at Consumer Watchdog, said the Delta tunnels will have a disparately greater impact on low-income families and urged the district to focus on less expensive projects such as water recycling and stormwater capture.

“It will be in the interest of corporations such as the Wonderful Company, Goldman Sachs … Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch, who are huge users of water in the state,” Tucker said of the district’s Yes vote.

San Joachin-Sacramento River Delta | Photo: Courthouse News

Environmentalists warned that the decades-old plan, which is still in the planning stages, would be the fatal blow to the Delta and its struggling salmon populations. The Sierra Club, the National Resources Defense Council, Restore the Delta and other environmental groups testified in opposition.

Restore the Delta executive director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said that despite the water district’s affirmative vote, the project still faces a horde of lawsuits and doubted whether banks would sign off on the project.

She cited a recent state audit that revealed that the project’s planning costs have skyrocketed to $280 million and that the state has yet to prove that the project is financially viable.

“Many of the best minds that work in water in California will spend years fighting this project until it is stopped, instead of working with you to lead the way on water projects that will serve the public interest,” Barrigan-Parrilla testified.

“This is the last gasp of an unsustainable, environmentally destructive way of managing California’s water supply.”

Southern California business and labor groups countered that the project would provide badly needed jobs and secure one of the region’s most important water sources. More than 30 percent of the Metropolitan Water District’s water comes from the Delta.

Beverly Hills City Councilman John Mirisch accused environmentalists of “parochial opposition” and urged the district not to “let the bigots turn off the spigots.”

Those are sure to be fighting words in Northern California, where people still remember what many consider the theft of water that turned the Owens Valley into a desert to provide water for Los Angeles a century ago.

Just before the Tuesday vote, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti came out against the project. He told reporters in Sacramento that perhaps Brown, who has championed the tunnels during his final term, should pursue a scaled-back approach with just one tunnel.

Several board members said they were open to discussing alternatives, but the board chair did not allow substitute motions or amendments to be introduced.

Board member Mark Gold, representing Los Angeles, said he was worried about the project’s impacts on the Delta ecosystem, and reiterated the opponents’ financial doubts.

“I still have tremendous concerns about the ability to pay for a two-tunnel 9,000-cubic-feet-per-second project with very uncertain cost impacts,” Gold testified.

Three of Los Angeles’ five-member delegation voted against financing the plan and two San Diego County Water Authority members voted against it. Santa Monica’s representative cast the sixth No vote.

The district is governed by 38 members from 26 water agencies, with larger cities holding more voting weight.

While the district’s vote was the first major financing domino to fall, other key water districts have yet to pledge support for the WaterFix. The Kern County Water Agency and the Santa Clara Valley Water District have votes scheduled in the next week.

“Metropolitan’s investment will provide water supply reliability for the region’s residents and economy,” California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird said in a statement.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


COMING SOON
THINGS TO DO
Thursday, Aug 22, 2019
S.T.R.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Manufacturing) Kids Expo, a local nonprofit that wants to prepare kids today to face the challenges of tomorrow, will host a Kids Conquer Challenge, Saturday, Aug. 24, from 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m., at the former Sears parking lot.
Thursday, Aug 22, 2019
The Michael Hoefflin Foundation is currently accepting auction item donations for its 26th Evening Under the Stars Gala Dinner & Charity Auction on Sept. 21.
Thursday, Aug 22, 2019
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital is expanding the services it offers at its community Health Fairs.
Thursday, Aug 22, 2019
For more than 200 chronically ill patients in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, doctors make house calls.
Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019
Bridge to Home, the Santa Clarita Valley's primary provider of services for homeless individuals and families, is seeking to raise $250,000 to ensure year-round homeless shelter services, and Stay Green Inc. has answered that call by becoming the nonprofit’s first premier sponsor.
Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The JetHawks got on the board with four runs in the first inning and went on to beat the Inland Empire 66ers, 10-5, on Wednesday night at San Manuel Stadium.
JetHawks Cruise to 4th Straight Win
SACRAMENTO – The California Transportation Commission (CTC) allocated more than $1.1 billion for a total of 133 State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) projects throughout California, including almost $994 million for 47 fix-it-first projects funded by Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.
SB 1 Funding Allocates Nearly $315M to LA County Highway Projects
S.T.R.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Manufacturing) Kids Expo, a local nonprofit that wants to prepare kids today to face the challenges of tomorrow, will host a Kids Conquer Challenge, Saturday, Aug. 24, from 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m., at the former Sears parking lot.
Aug. 24: Kids Conquer Challenge
This week, LBW Insurance and Financial Services was deemed one of the Best Places to Work in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Valencia-Based Insurance Agency Named Among Best Places to Work in LA
The Michael Hoefflin Foundation is currently accepting auction item donations for its 26th Evening Under the Stars Gala Dinner & Charity Auction on Sept. 21.
Michael Hoefflin Foundation Accepting Donations for Annual Gala
California Credit Union is inviting all Los Angeles area teachers who have a great class project idea to apply for a credit union grant through its bi-annual Teacher Grant Program.
LA County Teachers Encouraged to Apply for Credit Union Class Project Grant
Santa Clarita residents are invited to bring their unwanted household hazardous and electronic waste to the free Household Hazardous/E-Waste Roundup on Saturday, Aug. 24.
Aug. 24: Free Household Hazardous/E-Waste Roundup
A total of 263 single-family homes changed owners during July, an increase of 22.3 percent from a year ago and the highest monthly total since June 2018, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Tuesday.
SCV Home Prices Up 5% on Year; Low Interest Rates Spike Sales
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital is expanding the services it offers at its community Health Fairs.
Aug. 23: Henry Mayo Brings Health Fair to Newhall Community Center
The Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) is pleased to announce the successful addition of three new pieces of basic life support (BLS) equipment to its inventory:
LACoFD Adds New Basic Life Support Equipment to Inventory
The city of Santa Clarita is seeking community feedback on a public safety grant proposal for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program.
City Seeking Community Feedback on Public Safety Grant Proposal
During the Wednesday night board meeting, Deputy Superintendent Mike Kuhlman was named the superintendent-elect after it was made known that Vicki Engbrecht was stepping down from the position at the end of the 2019-20 school year.
Hart District Names Mike Kuhlman Superintendent-Elect
One person was transported to a nearby hospital after a vehicle rammed a parked car into a home’s garage Thursday afternoon.
Driver Crashes Parked Vehicle into Home’s Garage
For more than 200 chronically ill patients in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, doctors make house calls.
Study: Facey’s Palliative Care Program Helps Improve Patients’ Quality of Life
Firefighters saved a hilltop house from burning down Thursday as fire from a fully engulfed nearby motorhome spread to the brush and swept up the hillside.
Fire Engulfs Motorhome Near Bouquet, Texas Canyon Roads
1891 - Future First Lady Lou Henry (Hoover), 17, poses for photo at R.E. Nickel's Acton store [story]
Lou Henry
Santa Clarita is one of the safest cities in the nation to raise children, according to a recent report published by SafeWise.
Report: Santa Clarita Among Safest Cities to Raise Children
Castaic Union School District students returned from summer break last week, and district administrators and teachers are working to further develop a culture of wellness and kindness on their campuses.
Back to School: Castaic Creating Culture of Kindness
Oscar-nominated producer Jennifer Fox will return to produce the 11th Annual Governors Awards in October for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy President David Rubin announced Wednesday.
Fox to Encore as Academy Governors Awards Producer
College of the Canyons infielder Valerie Rivas (pictured above) will continue her collegiate career at the University of Antelope Valley after committing to the Pioneers softball program.
COC Infielder Valerie Rivas Headed to UAV
An experiment with TMU senior Kayla Peterson over the weekend helped pave the way for a 4-1 win over Benedictine University at Mesa on Tuesday.
Peterson Scores Twice as TMU Women’s Soccer Goes 2-0
The math is quite simple: Almost without exception, when The Master's University women's soccer team scores more than 50 goals collectively in a season, it advances to nationals.
TMU Women’s Soccer Preview 2019
Kyndel Borman had to wait like everyone else to find out if her shot in the closing minutes Saturday would roll into the right side of the net.
Late Borman Goal Lifts Master’s Past Southern Oregon
Natural causes are suspected in the death of a man whose body was found Wednesday on a bike path in Newhall, near the South Fork Trail.
Body of Man Found on Newhall Bike Path
%d bloggers like this: