Kern County agency votes to help fund delta water delivery system

Friday, 13 October 2017, 04:26:29 PM. The Kern County Water Agency, one of the biggest potential users of California WaterFix, is voting Thursday on whether to help pay for the water delivery project.

In a small step forward for California WaterFix, a major San Joaquin Valley irrigation district on Thursday tentatively endorsed a partial investment in the water-delivery project.

With virtually no discussion, the board of the Kern County Water Agency approved a letter to the state saying that the agency was interested in pursuing a 6.5% share in the $17-billion project, which after a decade of planning is going through a crucial funding stage.

After the vote, Curtis Creel, Kern’s general manager, said that figure could go up or down, depending on further discussions with Kern’s member irrigation districts.

“We all recognize this is an iterative process,” Creel said.

“I think it’s pretty significant,” he said of the 6.5% share, which equals roughly $1 billion in WaterFix funding. A full buy-in on Kern’s part would amount to slightly more than twice that amount.

Earlier this week, the project’s biggest potential customer, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, committed to paying for roughly a quarter of the project.

WaterFix’s survival depends on the willingness of the urban and agricultural districts that get water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to pay for the project, which calls for construction of two massive tunnels under the delta and a new diversion point on the Sacramento River.

The financing scheme suffered a major setback last month when the Westlands Water District, the state’s largest irrigation district, said its growers could not afford the tunnels and voted not to participate in WaterFix.

Kern’s move on Thursday pushes funding commitments to only about a third of the project’s cost, making it clear that months of negotiations lie ahead with other potential customers of WaterFix, a top priority of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration.

Brown last week personally lobbied members of the MWD and Kern boards to commit to financing. In the only board comments before Thursday’s vote, Kern president Ted Page acknowledged the governor’s commitment to moving the project forward.

“California desperately needs this water infrastructure,” Page said. The vote was unanimous, with one member absent.

As part of the funding plan, the largely urban State Water Project agencies that receive delta supplies decided that they can buy or lease other districts’ interest in WaterFix.

MWD assistant general manager Roger Patterson, who attended the 10-minute Kern meeting, said his agency has been talking to Kern and other State Water Project contractors about possible deals.

The MWD staff would have to return to its board for approval of any agreement to finance more than the 26% share the MWD agreed to this week.

Kern “essentially said we’re in at this level,” Patterson said, calling the board’s action “a positive sign.”

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Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

kern-county-agency-votes-to-help-fund-delta-water-delivery-system photo 2 CAPTION

Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

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Over 160,000 acres have been destroyed in northern California fires.

Over 160,000 acres have been destroyed in northern California fires.

kern-county-agency-votes-to-help-fund-delta-water-delivery-system photo 4 CAPTION

The death toll from the Northern California fires has reached 17. A wounded Mandalay Bay security guard warned hotel officials about a gunman before the Las Vegas massacre. Harvey Weinstein is facing more sexual assault and harassment allegations. The FBI’s investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball continues to expand. 

The death toll from the Northern California fires has reached 17. A wounded Mandalay Bay security guard warned hotel officials about a gunman before the Las Vegas massacre. Harvey Weinstein is facing more sexual assault and harassment allegations. The FBI’s investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball continues to expand. 

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A Northern California firestorm is one of the worst in state history, officials say. The Dodgers are heading to the NLCS after beating the Diamondbacks Monday night. Police have dramatically changed their account of how the Las Vegas massacre began. The Los Angeles Times has named a new editor in chief. 

A Northern California firestorm is one of the worst in state history, officials say. The Dodgers are heading to the NLCS after beating the Diamondbacks Monday night. Police have dramatically changed their account of how the Las Vegas massacre began. The Los Angeles Times has named a new editor in chief. 

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A wind-fed wildfire surged over the Anaheim Hills on Monday, burning several homes and forcing thousands to evacuate as fire crews struggled to battle the rapidly growing blaze.

A wind-fed wildfire surged over the Anaheim Hills on Monday, burning several homes and forcing thousands to evacuate as fire crews struggled to battle the rapidly growing blaze.

bettina.boxall@latimes.com

Twitter: @boxall

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Article Kern County agency votes to help fund delta water delivery system compiled by www.latimes.com