Governor Signs Water Bond in Friant

November 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Governor Schwarzenegger returned to the Valley on Monday to sign historic water legislation which will go before voters next year. The governor chose the Valley to sign the 11-billion dollar water bond because Fresno County is the region hardest hit by three years of drought and restricted pumping from the delta.

Governor Schwarzenegger congratulated local leaders for their work in moving the water bond forward. Two years ago at Friant Dam the governor talked about the need to increase water storage. He said, "Today we are delivering on that promise. It is a promise made and a promise kept and it's long overdue."

The governor put pen to paper and signed SBX7-2, a comprehensive package to rebuild California's water system. "I've heard the pleas of the people here in the Valley. I'm here today to tell all of you help is on the way."

Paul Rodriguez of the Latino Water Coalition said, "We choose to farm. It is what our parents taught us to do. It is what we will continue to do to feed their world."

FFA students from Firebaugh High were also on hand. Former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry says only future generations can determine if this truly is historic legislation. Autry said, "This is the day California woke up. It woke up from the nightmare from self-serving politics."

The celebratory mood though was tempered by the hard work which lies ahead - getting voters to back the 11-billion dollar bond.

Mario Santoyo of the Latino Water Coalition explained, "I think Californians are smart and they will realize this is a one-time opportunity for their children."

At the State Capitol Lodi Assemblywoman Allison Huber expressed her opposition to a delta governance committee which is part of the bill. Huber said, "It's the equivalent of having a coastal commission and only putting people on that coastal commission from Bakersfield, Fresno and Redding."

Others question earmarks such as 20-million dollars for "habitat projects" in Ventura County.

Governor Schwarzenegger said, "What some of them call earmarks or pork is for other people very important money to clean up the groundwater."

The governor also brought good news to struggling west-side families who have had to rely on regular food giveaways. He says state funding will continue the program through the winter months.

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