By Scott Smith
Record Staff Writer
December 01, 2012 12:00 AM
State water officials announced this week that they intend to undertake a cost-benefit study of a controversial, multibillion-dollar plan to transport water from Sierra Nevada snowmelt around the Delta and send it south.
This appears to be an about-face for state officials, who have long opposed the study. A spokesman for California's Natural Resources Agency on Friday downplayed the shifting position as an effort to be responsive to the project's critics.
"I wish I could say this is a huge step," agency spokesman Richard Stapler said. "This is a step in the process."
In January, the state expects to lay out the scope of the analysis, which might be completed at the earliest in the spring.
Gov. Jerry Brown backs the proposed $14 billion project - called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan - which would siphon water past the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and down to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California residents.