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Consumer Group Warns Delta 'Twin Tunnels' Plan May Cost Ratepayers

LOS ANGELES ( — Community leaders and consumer watchdog groups Wednesday were set to voice their opposition to a Northern California tunnels project that could impact neighborhoods here in the Southland.

Members of eight Los Angeles neighborhood councils, Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club, Southern California Watershed Alliance and Environmental Water Caucus claim the Bay Delta Conservation Plan would raise rates and property taxes without delivering any new water to Southern California.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is considering whether to raise rates to finance the BDCP project, which was formally released by Governor Jerry Brown last week.

The 35-mile-long, 40-foot-wide project is estimated to cost anywhere between $25 billion to $54 billion, which critics say will force the LADWP to increase water bills and property taxes.

Brown's office has made the draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) available to the public for comment through April 14, 2014.

According to Brown, the project will make progress in securing California's water supply and restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem.

"One calamitous storm or natural disaster — driven by climate change — could jeopardize the entire Delta, destroy its ecosystem and cut off water to 25 million Californians," Brown said. "This agreement with our federal partners moves us another step closer to being more prepared for an uncertain future in California."

However, opponents say rising energy prices, delays and price overruns could push the project's real costs significantly higher than current estimates.

"Ratepayer money should be directed to these necessary local investments, which will cost billions of dollars but spur local jobs, not be wasted on an unnecessary and harmful tunnels project, especially in a bad economy," according to a statement from Food & Water Watch.

A rally was scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. at City Hall.

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