By Steve Sohanaki

In light of the ongoing statewide drought and after many weeks of negotiating, state lawmakers in Sacramento passed a new $7.5 billion water plan to build up California’s water infrastructure on Aug. 13.

The plan includes the construction of additional reservoirs, supporting new water-saving technologies and cleaning contaminated groundwater.

The legislation will replace a previous bill that was considered too expensive and political. The bill passed with only one dissenting vote in the State Assembly—Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks)—77-1. In the Senate, the bill was approved 37-0.

Assemblywoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) said she is satisfied with the new bill. In 2009, she opposed the original $11 billion plan because of “the excessive pork-barrel spending” it contained.

The previous plan directed $3 billion to storage projects. The new plan cut it to $2.7 billion and proposed building reservoirs in the agricultural valley in Colusa County north of Sacramento and another one in the Sierra Nevada, northeast of Fresno.

In addition to the $7.1 billion that will be newly borrowed, $425 million from older bonds will be redirected to the water priorities stated in the new plan. The redirection of that money will require voter approval.

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