It has cost taxpayers $200 million so far, and that's just for the environmental documents.
The state next week is set to release the draft environmental planning documents for what could be the largest state water project since the 1960s.
The 1,500-page document will lay out scenarios the state could use to route water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta.
And it will set the stage for an $11 billion water bond scheduled to come before the voters in November.
"It's going to be posted on the Internet for everyone to see," said Jeff Kightlinger, executive director of the Metropolitan Water District, which supplies about 30 percent of Southern California's water.
"You're going to see a lot of press," he said. "Don't build it. Do build it. People are already fighting about it."
The state for decades has been trying to find a way to restore the delta of the two rivers, which is prime breeding habitat for fish.
The pumps that get water out of the delta interrupt water levels and grind up fish.
That water from the delta eventually ends up in the California Aqueduct and heads to Southern California.
The latest plan is to route the water in tunnels for about 30 to 45 miles. That $12 billion to $14 billion plan would eliminate pumps by grabbing the water before it went into the delta.
The project would be built in stages, and the $11 billion bond would pay for only a portion of


the tunnels.A similar effort in 1982 to build a canal around the delta failed because it lacked support in Northern California, Kightlinger said.
And a 2010 bond proposal was pulled for fear voters wouldn't pass it during the height of the recession.
The cost of building the tunnel project would cause rates to rise about 10 percent to 12 percent over the next decade, Kightlinger said.
Kightlinger spoke to a crowd of about 60 local officials Friday at the Rancho Los Amigos Country Club in Downey.
Montebello Unified School District board member Gerri Guzman said the school district has a big water bill.
"I always try to keep up on our resource committees and boards," she said. "It just keeps me aware that there are huge infrastructure issues that need to be addressed."
She has watched water bills continue to climb in the five water providers that serve Montebello.
Some residents are barely able to afford their bills, she said.
By every estimation, bills will continue become more expensive, experts said.
In the Whittier and San Gabriel Valley, much of the drinking water comes from from San Gabriel Mountains, so residents end up paying substantially less than the $560-per-acre foot the MWD charges for water.
An acre-foot of water is enough for a family of four for a year.
Even so, water providers sometimes are forced to supplement the area's water with imported water.
The delta battle promises to be a major issue for the state, Kightlinger said.
"It's an issue that's been around California forever," he said.