Santa Clara Valley Water District rejects Jerry Brown’s twin Delta tunnels plan

In a landmark vote closely watched across California, Silicon Valley’s largest water agency on Tuesday rejected Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion plan to build two giant tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

By a vote of 7-0, the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s board of directors chose instead to adopt a set of principles endorsing a significantly smaller, less costly project — with just one tunnel.

“What magnitude of project makes sense?” asked board member Barbara Keegan. “From our perspective that looks to be something less than originally was envisioned.”

“It’s clearly going to be a smaller project than what was originally proposed,” said board member Gary Kremen.

The vote, following a rejection of the project last month by the Westlands Water District in Fresno, which was to have contributed $3 billion, further throws the future of one of Brown’s major construction priorities into doubt with just 14 months left in his term. If the governor decides to pursue a smaller Delta project, which could be roughly half the twin tunnels’ cost, it could take years for new environmental and engineering studies. And what direction California’s next governor will pursue remains unclear.

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