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House California Water Bill Draws Attention From State Capitol

Aired 2/21/12 on KPBS News.

California state lawmakers are keeping a close eye on the big water bill moving through the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republican Assemblyman David Valadao spoke for many in his Central Valley district when he said it's time to put people before fish - specifically, the endangered Delta smelt that's limited the pumping of water to the Central Valley.

"We grow food for the country. I think it's a national security issue. Any time you cut off a country's food supply or shorten that food supply, it puts that country at risk," said Valadao.

But Democratic State Senator Lois Wolk, who represents the Delta, said the bill would overturn water agreements produced by generations of collaboration.

"It's a fundamental rewrite of water rights, of water right decisions, of the entire system of seniority of water rights. I think it will be unsuccessful," said Wolk.

The bill now moves to a vote of the full House, where the Republican majority supports it. The measure faces a tougher path in the Democratic-controlled Senate - including opposition from both California senators.

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