WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2017 - The controversial “twin tunnels” project proposed by California Gov. Jerry Brown may turn into a single tunnel, given concerns about cost and environmental impacts. Following a 7-0 vote last week by the Santa Clara Valley Water District expressing conditional support for a single tunnel, the Brown administration has expressed a willingness to downsize the project. California Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Laird told KQED Public Radio Tuesday that a smaller project is a possibility if there’s less money available. Called California WaterFix by Brown, the $17 billion project is envisioned as a set of 40-foot-high, 35-mile tunnels that would divert water from the Sacramento River and send it south, under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, to government pumping plants near Tracy. The state and supporters of the project tout it as a way to provide a reliable water source for farms and residents, but many farmers are skeptical of the benefits, and environmental groups and commercial fishermen – as well as other opponents – argue that the environmental impacts will be more severe than the state foresees. Although water districts that support some version of the project have committed to sharing about one-third of the cost of the project, one of the most powerful of them, Westlands Water District in the Central Valley, has voted against the tunnels. Laird said the state will be talking to the districts over the next few weeks to see where to go from here.
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