Gov: New dams critical for water supply

August 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Lawmakers are looking to upgrade California's antiquated water delivery system, but tonight the governor is warning whatever the plan, it must include funding for new dams.

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Standing side-by-side with the California Latino Water Coalition, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-California, threatened lawmakers by saying he'll reject any proposal that fails to include funding for new dams as part of an overhaul in state water policy.

"I will not sign anything that doesn't have above the ground and below the ground water storage," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "Water is our future. Water is our economy. Water is jobs."

California is in its third year of drought, forcing many parts of the state to enact water use restrictions and farmers to forget about planting crops.

The fragile Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta used to be a reliable source for the Central Valley and Southern California, but supplies have been severely cutback by the feds to save endangered fish. Comedian-turned-water activist Paul Rodriguez pleaded with lawmakers to put aside years of bickering to solve this issue.

"If you're planning to have salad or vegetables or eat, you'll want us to have water," said Rodriguez with the California Latino Water Coalition.

Democratic leaders vow to solve some of the state's water woes in the remaining three-and-a-half weeks left of session.

"I'm not going to overpromise, but we certainly are going to make every effort to try to end this year, very difficult year in California, on a high note," said State Senate President Darrell Steingberg, D-Sacramento.

But the Democratic-led joint committee, charged with fixing California's decades-old water delivery system in the delta, isn't considering new dams or bonds to pay for them.

That frustrated Felix Delgadillo who fixes farm equipment. Without water, farmers don't plant and their equipment doesn't need repair. He doesn't know how long he can survive.

"There's too many people that sit in this building here and yak all day long and nothing gets settled. We need the water. Quit playing around with people's lives," said Delgadillo, a struggling business owner.

State Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, says he is open to the idea of a bond, but wants to fix the delta's problems first because it supplies drinking water to millions of Californians and a lifeline for farmers.

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