State Senate Approves $9-billion Water Bond Measure

Fresno, CA The 28 to 7 vote came after legislators met in a special session throughout the evening trying to reach a compromise.

If approved by voters, the bond money would pay for underground storage and new reservoirs, including one in East Fresno County. Other projects would include Delta restoration and water recycling.

Farmers, local water districts and environmentalists have been pulling lawmakers in different directions. At the heart of the debate is safeguarding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which provides fresh water to two-thirds of California's residents and irrigates thousands of acres of cropland.

The Latino Water Coalition said it lobbied hard to the end, but didn't know what to expect with the final vote. "Very very surprised at the level of votes that came in. Very strong support on both from both the Democratic and Republican parties on this thing," said Mario Sontoyo, "Getting this particular goal achieved in the state is historic, it hasn't happened for 40 years."

Sontoyo stressed the state effort is a long-term solution. While it doesn't provide immediate relief to drought-stricken farmers, he said if these projects get built, the Valley won't have to deal with the water crisis on a year-to-year basis.

The plan must still be approved by the assembly, before it goes to the governor's desk and ends up on the ballot next year.

Governor Schwarzenegger has been keeping a close eye on this vote. He's even cancelled an appearance on a talk show tonight to make sure he can be around to sway some lawmakers.

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