The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has agreed to fund $10.8bn for the California WaterFix project, which aims to ensure reliable water supply for the state.


Image: An aerial view of the path of the proposed tunnels in the Delta on November 1, 2017. Photo: courtesy of State of California.

The funding will be used to construct two tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for the California WaterFix project, which is estimated to cost $16.7bn.

The new funding makes Southern California’s water agency as primary investor in the project, which aims to modernize the state’s outdated water delivery system.

Metropolitan Board Chairman Randy Record said: “California’s water delivery system is broken. After years of study, planning and environmental review, we finally have the solution. I am thrilled this project continues to move forward.”

The new financing is an addition to the Metropolitan’s board commitment announced in 2017 to fund about $4.3bn for the project, which has capacity of 9,000 cubic feet per second.

The agency said it plans to recoup a portion of the investment from agricultural interests and possibly others upon completion of the project.

Metropolitan general manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said: “The board today recognized the environmental and water supply reliability benefits to Metropolitan’s service area of building California WaterFix.

“Now we will move forward to build the project on time and on budget to provide our region and much of the state with reliable and cost-effective water.”

The existing Delta’s delivery system is outdated and its 1,100-mile levee system is increasingly vulnerable to earthquakes, flooding, saltwater intrusion, sea level rise and environmental degradation.

Record added: “The added challenge of dealing with climate change underscores the need to have more operational flexibility in the Delta.”

The California WaterFix project will involve building three new water intakes in the northern Delta and two tunnels capable of providing high quality water and reduce impacts to fish.

Additionally, the project is expected to contribute to the restoration and protection of up to 15,600 acres of critical Delta habitat.