The governing board of Southern California’s largest water wholesaler voted again Tuesday to spend billions of dollars on a water-delivery tunnel project, repeating a vote it cast in April due to questions about the legality of the earlier decision.

The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted April 10 to spend nearly $11 billion on the California WaterFix project, which is designed to divert water from the Sacramento River as it enters the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and carry it to existing federal and state pumping stations in the southern part of the delta through a pair of 35-mile tunnels.

MWD had originally agreed to contribute $4.3 billion to the $17 billion project, but the state announced in February that it was still short on funding and planned to proceed instead with a one-tunnel version of the project. That prompted MWD in April to increase its contribution to $10.8 billion, providing the remaining funding needed to build the full two-tunnel project.

In recent weeks, however, the environmental group Food and Water Watch and the watchdog First Amendment Coalition questioned the legality of the April decision. The groups questioned whether the agency had violated the state open-meeting law through vigorous behind-the-scenes campaigning among board members in the weeks leading up to the vote, as documented in emails and text messages made public in response to a public-records request.

MWD officials denied any wrongdoing, but the agency agreed to cast another vote on the issue.

“While there is no indication that these communications had any impact on the actions taken, to ensure that there is no question concerning the validity of the board’s consideration of and vote on whether to authorize increased funding California WaterFix and related items, this matter is being presented to the board anew for its consideration and a vote,” according to a staff report presented to the board.

MWD officials said the agency’s investment in the project is expected to cost the average Southern California household up to $4.80 per month in increased water bills. Critics of the project have estimated a much higher impact, suggesting monthly bills for Los Angeles residents could jump by as much as $16 per month.

The Los Angeles City Council went on record earlier this year opposing the WaterFix project if the MWD paid more than 47 percent of the $11 billion, one-tunnel version of the project or 26 percent of the two-tunnel, $17 billion project. The MWD is committing to fund about 64 percent of the two-tunnel project.

Under its funding plan, the MWD would recover the extra investment by selling tunnel capacity to agricultural irrigation districts when WaterFix is built.

The MWD is a wholesale water supplier which, along with the Los Angeles Aqueduct, accounts for roughly 85 percent of the city’s water supplies, with the total amount depending on the year’s environmental conditions.

The two-tunnel project would cost L.A.’s ratepayers an average of $1.73 per month in 2017 dollars, according to a 2017 report by Fred Pickel, director of the city’s Office of Public Accountability, which acts as a watchdog for the DWP. But Food and Water Watch, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, has argued the project could raise household water bills from $7 to $16 per month for more than 40 years.

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