Ag district refuses to pay for California’s twin-tunnel water project

The board of the largely agricutlural Westlands Water District voted 7-1 against taking part in Gov. Jerry Brown's twin-tunnel project "to remake the fragile estuary that serves as the hub of California's water delivery network," reports the Sacramento Bee. The decision, by the first water agency to vote on the project, is "a potentially fatal blow" to the $17-billion project.

U.S. wrongly paid a third of planning cost of twin-tunnel project

An audit by the Interior Department's inspector general says the government improperly spent $84 million to help plan the mammoth twin-tunnel project to ship water to Southern California from northern parts of the state, reported The Associated Press. The audit said the expenditures meant the Bureau of Reclamation paid for one-third of the cost of project planning through 2016, when California water districts were supposed to bear the costs.

Lawsuits pile up against the Delta tunnels project in California

At least 57 groups, ranging from local governments to crab boat owners, filed suit against the mammoth twin-tunnel project in the Sacramento River delta, using "one of the most powerful legal weapons found in any courtroom — the California Environmental Quality Act," reports the Sacramento Bee. "History suggests that suing under the California environmental law won't be enough to kill the tunnels."

Senate confirms lobbyist Bernhardt as No. 2 at Interior

Colorado native David Bernhardt won Senate confirmation as deputy Interior secretary, the No. 2 job at the department, on a mostly party-line vote, reported the Denver Post. A high-ranking Interior official in the past and most recently part of a law-and-lobbying firm in Denver, Bernhardt was described by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren as a walking conflict of interest.

SEC says major California water district cooked the books

The Westlands Water District, the “biggest of big shots in the water world of California’s Central Valley,” was fined $195,000 last week by the Securities and Exchange Commission for altering records to hide drought-related expenses, reports the L.A. Times.

California water district pumps money into lobbying

The nation's largest water district ramped up its spending on Washington lobbyists as drought deepened in California, says a story by Southern California Public Radio and the Center for Responsive Politics.