Arnold signs a water bill in SJ


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It took a lot of give and take to reach this point -- agreement by local officials, Democrats and Republicans in Sacramento, and the governor for a set of bills calling for water conservation and water supply improvements.

"Today we set forth a bold vision for the future of California, but the only way we can turn this vision into reality is if we get the peoples' help," said Gov. Schwarzenegger.

And the public's help will be needed on two fronts: passing an $11 billion bond measure and agreeing to reduce water use by 20 percent in urban areas by 2020. Water agency officials say the new emphasis will be outside the home -- especially water used for landscaping. Homeowners will be encouraged to plant drought-tolerant vegetation and deploy new technology.

"Even if you use slightly less drought-tolerant plants, you can still go to much more efficient irrigation systems, smart controllers, weather-based controllers that can actually tie into computer network and sense what that real-time water demand is so you're not over-irrigating," said Keith Whitman, the water supply manager for the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

John Cordes is in the process of building a new water recovery system for his Sunnyvale home. It will capture rain runoff and recycle so-called gray water from the washer. Cordes is also the political committee chair for the Sierra Club, which opposes the new state plan for not setting water saving goals for agriculture.

"No conservation goals set at all for agriculture, when they use 75 percent of the water, it is really unfair. So it's going to take the cities, in addition to what they have to do, it's going to cost them a lot to do a lot more recycled water to find ways to save 20 percent of their water budget," said Cordes.

The bond measure won't go before voters for another a year, giving both sides plenty of time to educate the people of California.

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