Next big step in Jerry Brown's $23 billion Delta tunnels plan unveiled
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown’s $23 billion proposal to build two massive, 35-mile-long tunnels that would make it easier to move water from Northern California to farms and cities in the south and other parts of the state took a step forward Thursday with the release of the plan’s first details.
But even as the Brown administration rolled out four of 12 chapters of its “draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan” amid fanfare and a Capitol news conference, hanging over the event was the reality that the project faces a series of huge hurdles, any of which could kill it:
- Environmental groups and fishing groups who oppose the plan are almost certain to file a lawsuit when the project’s environmental impact report comes out this summer. Such lawsuits can drag on for years.
- The project needs state lawmakers to place a water bond on the November 2014 ballot to help generate funding. The $11 billion water bond the Legislature approved in 2009 — painstakingly cobbled together after long negotiations between Republicans and Democrats — was pulled from the state ballot in 2010 and 2012 by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and then Brown over concerns voters would defeat it because it was widely perceived as being full of pork projects. Legislators are trying to find a two-thirds majority for a smaller water bond, but so far have not.