Local Growers Watching Water Bond Negotiations Closely

FRESNO, Calif. California's aging water delivery system has not kept up with the state's growth. Barry Bedwell is president of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League. He says the state has reached a critical time.

Bedwell said, "I think clearly this is not just an agricultural issue. It's really about a growing population that needs more water. We haven't done anything in terms of plumbing for this state in decades."

Lawmakers have been haggling over a complex water bond tied to several bills involving conservation, delta governance, storage and water rights.

Sarge Green of the California Water Institute said, "If one fails they all fail. That is a bit of problem. The bond is kind of the wrapping on the present. It pulls it all together."

Farmers on the Valley's west-side have suffered because of three years of drought and reduced pumping from the delta.

"Clearly we need a better system to move water. We need a better system to store water and we need to do it in a fashion where appropriations are really guaranteed," said Bedwell.

But keeping people happy in the Valley, the north and south has always been difficult. Green says you can't re-start the state's economy without water.

"I think that the crisis in the delta and a drought has really distilled this into a tremendous opportunity," said Green.

It could be another long night for lawmakers because the water bond issue's been set up as an all-or-nothing deal.

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