California governor proposes one-tunnel water plan

Gov. Jerry Brown is paring down his troubled proposal for redoing California's north-south water system in hopes of launching the mega-project before he leaves office this year.

The new plan calls for just one giant tunnel to ship Northern California water south instead of two. It would put Southern and central California water agencies directly in charge of designing and building the project instead of the state.

The state posted the new proposal on a website for pending state contracts late Friday.

Brown had been pushing to launch construction of two giant $16 billion water tunnels to supply farms and cities to the south, but the project has failed to gain enough support from water agencies that would pay for it.

Environmental groups also oppose it.

California water officials say the state has not yet made any final decision on scaling back the size of a troubled water project.

State water officials filed papers Friday saying they were considering cutting immediate plans for a $16 billion project to carry Northern California southward from two tunnels to one, with the second tunnel postponed indefinitely. They asked state builders vying to build the project to submit proposals on the pared-down one-tunnel project.

California natural resources spokeswoman Lisa Lien-Mager says no decision has been made on changing the project.

Another state water agency whose approval is needed for the project, the state Water Resources Control Board, says It is watching the state's negotiations with water contractors for a possible scaled-down project.

Board spokesman Tim Moran says the board will consider whether any cuts in the project size require changes to the state approval process.

The tunnels would be the state's largest water project in decades, redoing the state's north-south water deliveries.
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