Westlands has said ‘no’ before

One under-reported detail in the wake of the Westlands Water District’s vote against the Delta tunnels is the fact that this isn’t the first time the water district has supposedly rejected the project — or at least, the process.

“We’re not going to spend another dime on this,” Westlands board President Jean Sagouspe¬†told the Fresno Bee in — wait for it — 2010.

That’s right. Almost seven years ago Westlands declared that it was pulling out of what was then known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Its concerns at the time were essentially the same as today: That the project — which was then sized to deliver up to 15,000 cubic feet per second of water, 40 percent larger than today — would simply not deliver enough water to make it worth the cost.

The 2010 announcement, dropped right before Thanksgiving as I recall, wasn’t mere waffling. It was Westlands, in a formal letter, effectively saying “no more.” The late, great Mike Taugher called the water district’s withdrawal a “serious blow” to BDCP.

But that was not the end, as it turns out. At some point — I don’t remember exactly when — it became clear that Westlands was still at the table. And they’ve been there, though rather skeptically, ever since.

Fitch Ratings last week speculated that the most recent Westlands vote isn’t as final as it sounds. “The decision reflects the difficulty and complexity of negotiating among the many stakeholders who would pay for California’s biggest water project since the construction of the State Water Project (SWP) in the 1960s, but it is likely to signal the beginning — not the end — of serious negotiations over the financing of the plan.” (emphasis mine)

History suggests Fitch may be right.


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