Kathleen Ronayne, ASSOCIATED PRESS
California Gov. Gavin Newsom scrapped a $16 billion plan Thursday to build two giant water tunnels to reroute the state’s water system and instead directed state agencies to restart planning for a single tunnel.
The move came after $240 million has already been spent on the project championed by former Gov. Jerry Brown to divert water from the north to the state’s drier south.
Newsom had signaled the move in his February State of the State address. He made the change official when he asked state agencies to withdraw existing permit applications and start over.
“I do not support the twin tunnels. But we can build on the important work that’s already been done,” he has said.
Brown wanted to build two, 35-mile-long (55-kilometer-long) tunnels to divert water from the Sacramento River, the state’s largest river, to the San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. Local water agencies were expected to foot the roughly $16 billion bill.
A single tunnel is expected to cost less, but officials haven’t yet set a price tag, said Erin Mellon, spokeswoman for the state Department of Water Resources. Nor has the state determined how much water would flow through a single tunnel.