California lawmakers finally agree on water plan after year of political squabbling
SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) – A deal was reached late Wednesday in drought-stricken California on a plan to improve water supplies that was mired in regional and party politics for a year, Republican leaders said.
The legislature scheduled a vote Wednesday night to place before voters in November a $7.7 billion plan to sell bonds to pay for reservoirs and other projects, spokesmen for Senate Republican leader Bob Huff and Democratic leader Darrell Steinberg said.
California is in the throes of a devastating multi-year drought that is expected to cost its economy $2.2 billion in lost crops, jobs and other damages.
On the last possible day to place the measure on the ballot, Democrats and Republicans were still fighting over how what projects to include, with Republicans arguing for more funding for reservoirs and Democrats saying that damming rivers and flooding canyons to build them is damaging to the environment.
Last-minute intervention by Governor Jerry Brown, a fiscal moderate who said previous plans were too expensive, brought the sides together.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Eric Walsh)
[Image: A tire rests on the dry bed of Lake Mendocino, a key Mendocino County reservoir, in Ukiah, California February 25, 2014. By Noah Berger for Reuters]