Delta tunnels won’t get green light before Gov. Brown leaves office. What will Gavin Newsom do?

Denton Daily –

State officials pulled back on their effort Friday to secure project, all but ensuring that the controversial plan to re-engineer the West Coast’s largest estuary will remain in limbo after Gov. Jerry Brown leaves office.

Facing a likely defeat, the Department of Water Resources withdrew its petition to the Delta Stewardship Council to have the project deemed in compliance with what’s known as the the Delta Plan, a set of policy goals, mandated by state law, that put protection and restoration of the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta estuary’s eco-system on an equal footing with more reliable water supplies.

Without the council’s green light, the $16.7 billion project, known officially as California WaterFix, can’t go forward.

As a consequence, regulatory approval for WaterFix almost certainly won’t be completed before Brown’s term as governor runs out this year. Brown has championed the project for years, but his successor, has taken a more lukewarm attitude toward WaterFix and has said it might have to be scaled back to one tunnel instead of two.

The decision by DWR Director Karla Nemeth was hailed as a victory, at least in the short term, for opponents of the project, which is designed to overhaul how Northern California river water gets delivered through the Delta to farms and cities in the southern half of the state.

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