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Phil Matier: Cost Of California Water Plan Skyrocketing

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California Aqueduct

Dos Amigos Pumping Plant on the California Aqueduct. (James Irwin/CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – California Governor Jerry Brown has been touting a water plan that would include building two massive water tunnels through the Delta, but it could end up costing twice as much as originally projected.

The project has an estimated price tag of $25 billion, but according to a new report by the San Jose Mercury News, when factoring in long-term costs, it could actually cost somewhere between $51-67 billion.

The latest figures were not included in last month’s report by the Brown administration, but were presented at a Westlands district board meeting last month, after being gathered by a Westlands staff member and a Citigroup bond consultant.

The question now is how Governor Brown is going to be able to sell the project, which features a pair of water tunnels, that would divert a portion of the Sacramento River’s flow at three new intakes, carrying water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to Southern California farmlands and cities.

The project will rely mostly on bond money and bond borrowing, rather than money from the federal government.

A statewide water bond is expected to be placed on the 2014 ballot and much of the brunt of the money is expected to come from residents in Southern California, in the form of increases to their water bills in the future. Polls show that right now, many support a plan to pay for the project, but it’s unclear if the increased price tag might change opinions.

You can hear Phil Matier’s comments Monday through Friday at 7:50am and 5:50pm on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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