Announcing the package, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said the history of water demand in the state had polarised Californians – environmentalists against farmers, urban against rural, north against south.

But he claimed the latest package meant people could put aside those differences as new infrastructure would ease pressures on existing supplies.

The plan will see Gov Schwarzenegger finding $11bn from Californian coffers with local and federal funding expected to reach a further $30bn.

It will pay for more above and below-ground water storage and monitoring and clean-up of groundwater to protect public health and restore supplies.

It will also tackle nature conservation issues and crack down on the illegal abstraction of water by farmers and industry.

The final piece of the puzzle is a plan to cut per-capita consumption by 20% by 2020, vital as the population of California continues to rise and climate change projections predict less rainfall.

Gov Schwarzenegger said many of California’s water problems were ‘self-inflicted wounds’ and that this latest package could put the state back on track to sustainable water use.

“This is, without any doubt, the most comprehensive water infrastructure package…in the history of California,” he said.

“And this is an $11 billion package that will be leveraged against an additional $30 billion. That is altogether a $40 billion project.

“And this is something that is very badly needed for the state of California and this was part of our infrastructure proposal.”

Sam Bond

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