Jerry Brown officially downsizes Delta tunnel plan. But can he sell one tunnel?

“The water agency is stretching to find ways to keep an unpopular and ill-conceived project alive,” said Kathryn Phillips, director of the California Sierra Club. “It doesn’t have the funding for the tunnels project it claims the state needs, so it just changes the project to fit the money it can find.”

“It’s kinder, gentler,” Gary Kremen, a member of the biggest water board for Silicon Valley, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, said of the one-tunnel version. The district was one of the few big ones in Northern California to look hard at joining in the tunnels.

Supporters also hope the trimmed-down project will have a better chance of winning approval before the 79-year-old governor leaves office in January. The single tunnel still would be California’s biggest water project in decades.

The state put the cost of the single tunnel at $10.7 billion, all to be paid by water districts that use the supply.

California water districts had balked at the $16 billion cost of the two tunnels, stalling that version by late last year.

Delta at Twitter: