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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — California has released a key environmental report supporting Gov. Jerry Brown’s plans for two giant north-south water tunnels.

Brown’s administration environmental-impact report Thursday for the project clears another regulatory hurdle for the proposed tunnels.

Brown wants the $15.7 billion water tunnels to more reliably deliver water from Northern California’s Sacramento River to rural and urban water districts in Central and Southern California.

The project’s critics have expressed concerns over the how the project will be financed.

Thursday’s assessment contends the project would have little or no impact on dwindling fish species and overall is the best option to modernize the state’s current half-century-old network of pumps, pipes and conduits.

Brown in a statement calls the tunnels essential. Opponents say the project would worsen conditions for farmers and native species that depend on the Sacramento River.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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