The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) voted to approve its initial share of funding the entire $16.7 billion California WaterFix project in October 2017. The WaterFix would modify the diversion of water imported from Northern California to strengthen reliability of water supplies while also adding environmental protections.
In February 2018, Gov. Jerry Brown signaled his support for a phased approach to the project and to move forward on the construction of single tunnel instead of both tunnels at once. These tunnels would carry water supplies underneath, rather than through, the environmentally sensitive Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta region.
Recent discussions at MWD involved the possibility of underwriting the entire California WaterFix to maximize project benefits. A single tunnel represents a good repair to the state water system. However, a full California WaterFix would be the best option in providing reliable supplies for future generations.
Without reliable water supplies, our way of life in California will be put at risk. Droughts will become more frequent, the environment suffers, businesses will move out of the area and, as a result of increased unemployment, the size of disadvantaged communities will increase. We will see California drop from the sixth largest world economy and feel the associated impacts.
MWD has the unique opportunity to move the project forward as originally envisioned. It will cost less to build the entire project immediately than to construct the California WaterFix in phases. We hope MWD will show great leadership in maintaining a supply that is a cornerstone of our water reliability and to strongly consider building the full project.
NINA JAZMADERIAN is the general manager of Foothill Municipal Water District.