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Governor signs part of water package

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today went to a scruffy field in the San Fernando Valley to sign two pieces of water legislation passed earlier this week.

The setting was the Tujunga well field of the San Fernando Valley aquifer, part of Los Angeles' water supply.

One of the bills establishes a statewide program to measure groundwater elevations. The other adds 25 state enforcement officers to track down illegal water diversions.

Unlike other Western states, California has not monitored or regulated groundwater pumping, which has caused major subsidence in some regions.

In its early forms, the enforcement bill was much stronger. It called for increased penalties for illegal water diversions and gave the state water board more clout to stop them. But those provisions proved politically explosive and were dropped.

Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the remaining parts of the water package in coming days, including a $11.1-billion bond that will go before voters a year from now.

Surrounded by state lawmakers and local officials, the governor informally launched the bond campaign. "We want to invest in the future of California, and this is the best investment we can make. It's very important to vote yes," he said.

-- Bettina Boxall

Photo: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs water bills as Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, left, and other legislators look on. Credit: Peter Grigsby / Office of the Governor   


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