April 15, 2009 / 8:30 PM / 9 years ago

California to get $260 million in U.S. funds for water

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California will receive $260 million of $1 billion in U.S. economic stimulus funds slated for water infrastructure, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Wednesday.

Rain clouds form above the San Luis Canal portion of the California Aqueduct near Firebaugh, California February 5, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

The announcement comes amid California’s third consecutive year of drought, a weakening state economy and a lack of consensus in the state Legislature over which types of water projects the state should finance on its own.

Salazar said in a statement the projects the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds will finance will help create jobs across California as well as address its water supply challenges.

“From boosting water supplies and improving conservation to improving safety at our dams, these shovel-ready projects will make a real and immediate difference in the lives of farmers, businesses, Native American tribes and communities across California,” Salazar said.

Schwarzenegger has often said California’s water needs will grow along with the state’s population, which relies on an extensive water infrastructure system several decades old.

Last month, the governor wrote to President Barack Obama to request federal stimulus funds for water projects be released immediately to California, the most populous U.S. state and a farming powerhouse that produces nearly half of the fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed in the United States.

“California’s water system is in crisis, and our future economic growth and prosperity depends on a water system that provides clean, reliable and sustainable water to our people, our farms and our businesses,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement on the federal aid slated for California’s water infrastructure.

“These Recovery Act economic stimulus funds will create jobs and provide critical drought relief, helping to shield our water-dependent economy from disaster,” Schwarzenegger said. “We can’t fix California’s broken water system without our federal partners.”

Reporting by Jim Christie; Editing by Jan Paschal

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