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Farmworkers union has $1-million war chest to fight water bonds

September 1, 2009 |  5:52 pm

A new ripple appeared today in the fragile negotiations to overhaul California’s water system, as the United Farm Workers union reported receiving a $1-million donation that it could use to fight a possible water bond.

With 10 days left before the end of the legislative year, lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are scurrying to forge agreement on measures to stabilize the state’s water supply and restore the delicate ecosystem in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Schwarzenegger has insisted that a water bond be part of any overhaul, to fund new storage capability underground and through dams. Farming interests also support a bond.

The farmworkers union, which historically has not been flush with cash, reported that the $1-million donation was made to a political action committee called “United Farm Workers’ Committee to Oppose Statewide Water Bonds.”

The union declined to comment about the money, which came from Change to Win, a national labor coalition.

A water bond proposal would require voter approval.

Earlier today, state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), said a water overhaul was his No. 1 priority now.

"I want to get water done," he said. "The administration wants to get it done. Many of the stakeholders want to get it done."

--Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento