New analysis puts price tag for Delta tunnel at $20 billion

Gavin Newsom is pushing ahead with the Delta tunnel despite the $20 billion cost.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has announced that it will cost over $20 billion to build the controversial Delta tunnel. 

Despite the expensive cost, the Newsom administration is pushing that the benefits justify the price tag. 


The backstory: The Delta tunnel would be a large-scale tunnel designed to improve water storage to help the state withstand drought. 

  • The tunnel system, which has been in the works for decades, has faced opposition from environmental groups and Central Valley farming communities, among others.
  • It would be about 45 miles long and 36 feet wide. 

The big picture: The Newsom administration released a new analysis on the project putting the price tag at $20.1 billion, which would be paid for by 29 local public water agencies. 

  • According to the Berkeley Research Group – which conducted the analysis – the tunnel would yield $38 billion in benefits mostly due to an increased water supply that would be better protected from natural disasters like earthquakes.
  • The project also includes $200 million for grants for local projects that would be impacted by the tunnel. 

The other side: Rep. Josh Harder (D–Tracy) has long been critical of the project and noted Friday that it would cause $167 million in damages to Delta communities. 

  • “This new analysis acknowledges what we’ve known all along: the Delta tunnel is meant to benefit Beverly Hills and leave Delta communities out to dry,” Harder said. “This $20 billion boondoggle project wouldn’t create a single new gallon of water for anyone. I’m sick and tired of politicians in Sacramento ignoring our Valley voices and I will do everything in my power to stop them from stealing our water.”
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