Taxpayer money was wrongly used to plan California water tunnel project, federal audit says

Afederal agency left U.S. taxpayers on the hook for $50 million in water project costs that should have been paid by Central Valley irrigation districts, according to an inspector general’s report released Friday.

The audit found that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation improperly subsidized the districts’ share of planning costs for a controversial proposal to build two massive water tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The reclamation bureau “obtained this $50 million over a 7-year span by using a complex, obscure process that was not disclosed in the annual congressional budget justifications,” stated the report by the inspector general of the U.S. Interior Department.

“In the process,” the audit found, the reclamation bureau “also decided that the $50 million in appropriated funds was used for a non-reimbursable purpose, meaning the cost was absorbed by the federal government rather than being repaid by [Central Valley Project] water contractors.”

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Chris Alexakisparks, water