Tunnel Visions

Newsom and state water board pull plug on controversial twin-tube plan

The California Department of Water Resources announced today that it was withdrawing proposed permit applications for former Gov. Jerry Brown’s twin-tunnel ‘WaterFix’ project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The move formally puts to rest Brown’s much-derided and decades-long pursuit of two massive water- and fish-conveyance tunnels to ensure water security in the state while protecting the fragile Delta ecosystem. That plan would have cost California at least $20 billion—and up to $70 billion by some estimates.

Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged to pull the plug on Brown’s plan as a candidate and has called for a smaller, single tunnel to modernize the state’s water delivery system. The DWR says the single-tunnel project is needed to protect water supplies from seawater intrusion into the Delta, and to mitigate potential damage from earthquakes. “It will be designed,” says DWR of Newsom’s tunnel vision, “to protect water supply reliability while limiting impacts on local Delta communities and fish.”

North Bay State Sen. Bill Dodd cheered Newsom and the DWR’s move to rescind the Brown-era applications and twin-tunnel plan, which he describes as “fatally flawed.”

“By closing this chapter on the euphemistically named WaterFix,” says Dodd in a statement, “I believe we can move to a thoughtful, collaborative approach that meets our water needs while safeguarding the environmental and economic vitality of the Delta.”

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