Schwarzenegger signs $11 billion water bond measure |

Schwarzenegger signs $11 billion water bond measure

The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. and#8212; Framed by a shrinking mountain reservoir in Fresno County, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a far-reaching water bond Monday intended to rebuild California’s crumbling water system and fund new dams to save up the precious resource for dry years.

Yet at a time when several Western states are preparing to tear down dams rather than build new ones, the governor acknowledged he will face hurdles in persuading Californians to vote next November for the $11 billion measure, which was passed last week by the state Legislature.

In recent months, officials in Oregon, Washington and even California have agreed to spend millions to dismantle colossal dams built decades ago in order to protect native fish species, following legal tussles over water between the federal government, environmentalists, Indian tribes and farmers.

In the San Joaquin Valley, where most of the nation’s fruits and vegetables are grown, farmers warn that their crops will wither if the government doesn’t build a second reservoir above Friant Dam, which was built in the 1940s to nurture croplands below.

and#8220;For decades, Californians have been fighting about water,and#8221; Schwarzenegger said. and#8220;I’ve heard the pleas of the people here from this valley, I have heard the pleas of the people of the state of California, and I think the legislators have heard those pleas as well. So I am here to tell all of you help is on the way.and#8221;

The bond bill is one of five bills passed last week in Sacramento, but it will not become law unless voters approve it on next November’s ballot.

The Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act would inject $75 million into the Sierra Nevada Conservancy for watershed health-related projects, and $100 million into the California Tahoe Conservancy.

Read more about its local impacts by reading the following story by Sierra Sun Reporter Greyson Howard: