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Backers Get Scare Before Federal Clarification Of Position On Water Tunnel Project

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

In this Feb. 25, 2016, file photo, water flows through an irrigation canal to crops near Lemoore, Calif.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

The prospects for Gov. Jerry Brown’s push to build two massive tunnels to pipe water from the Delta to Southern California lurched from murky to bleak—then back to murky Wednesday.

A report the Trump administration does not support the $16 billion project spurred fears the administration would broadly oppose it.

But the federal Department of Interior later issued a clarification. It said while they’re not helping pay for the tunnels, the feds will keep working with the state as the project develops.

“They’re not saying they’re going to kill the project," said Jeffrey Mount with the Public Policy Institute of California. "There’s a big difference there.”

In recent weeks, water districts have balked at how much the state wants them to help pay for the tunnels. Mount said they could strike a deal.

“People who say they are not on board, that doesn’t mean they’re not," Mount said. "In water, in general, that’s a negotiating position, rather than something final."

But he cautions the clock is ticking. Brown is about to enter his final year as governor and, it’s not clear his successor will be eager to dive in. 

Daniel Potter

Reporter

Daniel Potter started out as an intern at Nashville Public Radio, where he worked as a general assignment reporter for six years, covering everything from tornadoes to the statehouse.   Read Full Bio 

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