California passes water upgrade package

Nov. 4, 2009 at 4:16 PM
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SACRAMENTO, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger congratulated state legislators Wednesday for passing a massive overhaul plan for California's water system.

Schwarzenegger said in a written statement that the legislation, which includes an $11 billion bond measure that must be approved by the cash-strapped state's voters, addresses the "lifeblood of everything we do in California."

"Democrats and Republicans came together and tackled one of the most complicated issues in our state's history," he said. "This comprehensive water package is an historic achievement."

The San Francisco Chronicle said the size of the bond measure and the fact it will be repaid through the state's general fund could lead to "sticker shock" for many voters next November.

The project is California's latest attempt to balance the needs of Northern California's delta environment with those of Southern California's cities and the state's huge agriculture industry.

Some environmentalists scoffed at the proposal, saying it would do little to preserve the delta's fish habitat or encourage conservation.

"The Legislature capitulated to pressure from big corporate water interests and passed a package full of outdated ideas and the same policies that have led to the current crisis," Charlotte Hodde of the Planning and Conservation League said in a written statement.

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