New project to connect state and federal water systems

FRESNO, Calif.

"Today is a great day of celebration." Salazar told a crowd gathered at the project site, which is northwest of Tracy.

California's Senior Senator, Dianne Feinstein said it marked the start of a team effort between the state and federal governments that could lead to more water projects.

"This is to be I hope, the signal project that will signify that we're going to stop fighting and put that team together that will prevent this great state from becoming a desert state." Feinstein said.

The project involves building a pumping station on the Delta Mendota Canal, part of the Federal system, and running two pipes 500 feet up a hill to the California Aqueduct, the state system. It will move about 40 thousand acre feet of water each year, and cost almost 30 million dollars.

Democratic Congressman Jim Costa of Fresno was among those who pushed to get this project done. Facing a tough re-election campaign by opponents who accuse him of not having done enough to get water to Valley farms, he believes this will be a major shot in the arm to agriculture

"Up to 40 thousand acre feet of water per year after the years we've had recently, that makes a big difference in the flexibility in the operations and the fact we're proving you can actually get some things done," said Costa. "I think the people want to feel we are investing in California's water future."

Most of the funding from the project will come from the Federal Government, more than half of that from Federal Stimulus funds. It will take about two years to complete.

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