Water Deal Reached in Sacramento

After an all-night session, the state Assembly has approved a more than $11 billion bond to fund a comprehensive overhaul of California's water system.{}

The package includes new dams, groundwater cleanup, conservation and habitat restoration.{} The bond would have to be approved by voters

The Senate passed the package a day earlier, but the Assembly added additional money. The Senate is expected to approve the new package today.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calls the passage a historic achievement that will allow California to prosper.

"Water is the lifeblood of everything we do in California. Without clean, reliable water, we cannot build, we cannot farm, we cannot grow and we cannot prosper. That is why I am so proud that the legislature, Democrats and Republicans, came together and tackled one of the most complicated issues in our state's history. This comprehensive water package is an historic achievement," the governor said after the passage.

Lawmakers have long struggled over ways of restoring the crucial Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta while creating stable water supplies for cities and farms.

Farmers on the valley's Westside have been hit hard by low water deliveries and severe drought conditions.

Farmers say the water crisis had led them to leave a quarter-million acres of land idle; thousands across the valley are without work. Some cities report unemployment rates as high as 40%.

Fresno City Councilmember, Henry T. Perea commended state legislators actions Wednesday. "I really believe that this has been a bipartisan effort to come up with the best possible water reform.{} When these bonds come before the voters next year I urge them to vote yes and help us start a new era of water management policy in California."