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As water talks slog on, solution is elusive

October 12, 2009 |  5:38 pm


Legislative leaders today said they are closer to an agreement on water, but are still working on disagreements before submitting bills to the rest of the lawmakers.

Assembly Republican Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo said he wants a water vote in a matter of weeks, but suggested it may take legislators more time.

"If we rush a fatally flawed deal to the floor before the final compromises are agreed to, we could see this entire package fail, which would set us back years,'' Blakeslee said.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass said the proposal being discussed among leaders is to go to the voters next year with a $9.4-billion general obligation bond, with only half of the bonds issued before 2015 to reduce the impact on the state's debt and budgets.

The package also includes statewide monitoring of groundwater and increased water rights enforcement, including higher penalties for illegal diversion, Bass said. She said another aspect of the proposal is requiring most consumers to reduce water use 20% by 2020, with less stringent requirements proposed for agricultural users than for urban users.

"I believe this will represent the most comprehensive and significant water infrastructure and policy advancement since the state water project was established in the 1960s,'' Bass said. "We would be taking it too far to say we have a solid deal that all four leaders are agreeing with.''

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is a major source of Southland drinking water. (Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times / July 11, 2008)