Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has delayed acting on hundreds of bills to pressure lawmakers to improve California's deteriorating and inadequate water system.
For most of the year, the state has been hit by water shortages resorting in the drought to be declared a national emergency. For years, Schwarzenegger has tried to create a consensus between Democrat and Republican lawmakers over a water bill, but it has frequently fallen through due to persistent disagreements between the two sides over the sort of water infrastructure the state should have..
The Republican Party, of which the governor is a member of, have called for more dams backed by the powerful farm interest groups. The Democrats, on the other hand, along with environmental groups, have said this will further destroy the state's fragile eco-system.
A source of constant clashes had been that of the Delta Smelt - a fish.
In 2007, a federal judge ruled state and federal pumps sending some 6 million acre-feet of delta water south to Kern County and other users each year could wipe out the endangered smelt, a tiny silver fish. The US Fish and Wildlife Service concurred saying that pumping water throughout the state could "jeopardize the continued existence of the delta smelt and adversely modify its critical habitat".
The Republicans have said that the government's refusal to 'turn on the water' over a fish is damaging the livelihood of thousands of farmers, but the environmental groups and the Democrats have countered with the fact that the decimation of smelt populations would have a knock on effect for the fishing industries whose stocks, such as salmon, feed on the smelt.
It is arguments like this that has seen water negotiations carry on in to its seventh day, with the Governor say that there were still a "a few remaining issues to work out."
Another issue is the amount of a water bond to pay for improving the state's inadequate and outdated water storage and conveyance system. Analysts have said a water bill will require billions of dollars in bonds to finance improvements and additions to the state's water system.
Governor Schwarznegger has backed the controversial dam and canal scheme saying, "I'm fighting to rebuild our crumbling water system"
"Water is jobs for California, water is food, water is our future, water is our economy."
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