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Future of California's WaterFix Tunnel Plan Uncertain as Farmers Take an Opposing Stance

Future of California's WaterFix Tunnel Plan Uncertain as Farmers Take an Opposing Stance

FRESNO, CA - A group of California farmers have spoken on Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed $16 billion WaterFix plan, and the result may mean the project will be halted.

WaterFix, which would help fund two massive water tunnels, is the Brown Administration’s attempt to modernize California’s aging water infrastructure. However, this group of farmers argued that the plan was not only too expensive, but also did not adequately fix the issues they were most concerned with.

Westlands Water District

According to a report from the Associated Press, Westlands Water District’s board voted 7 to 1 on Tuesday to withdraw its participation from the project following an over hour-long discussion with a group of California farmers. The farmers, largely unidentified by the report, told officials they'd prefer seeing money spent on capturing Californian's storm runoff and replacing leaky toilets as ways to ease the demand for delta water. Other critics were also in tow to argue that the project will dry up California’s wetland and will harm native fish.

William Bourdeau, Executive Vice President, Harris FarmsWilliam Bourdeau, Executive Vice President at Harris Farms and a Westlands board member, told AP that the economics of the project “didn't pencil out” and that it could not guarantee consistent water supplies over the long-term. "We would be obligating hundreds of family farms," Bourdeau said. "That doesn't make economic sense."

Westlands Water District’s vote is the first of many by California’s largest water districts, and this withdrawal marks the beginning of what could be a long and difficult battle by Governor Brown to pass WaterFix. He, along with other backers of the project, says the tunnels will stabilize delta flows, bolster endangered fish, and ensure a reliable water supply.

John Laird, Secretary, California Natural Resources Agency"Failing to act puts future water supply reliability at risk,"John Laird, Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, said in a statement. "This vote, while disappointing, in no way signals the end" of the project known as WaterFix.

This is just the first of many in the steps it will take to prove an end or a beginning of the WaterFix plan, so keep looking to AndNowUKnow for continued updates.