Two influential water districts and several environmental groups said Monday they support key elements of water legislation under negotiation in the Capitol. But the compromise is not good enough for Republican leaders, who said they still have "grave concerns" that the proposals would "create new layers of bureaucracy."
The pact between Westlands Water District, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and key environmental groups comes after weeks of closed-door negotiations over new policies to mandate conservation, track groundwater levels and create agencies to oversee the troubled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, cited the agreement as major progress and called for a vote this week on a larger water deal, which would include a bond to pay for projects.
"We have narrowed the differences in ways that now we think are creating a momentum that did not exist six weeks ago," he said.
But GOP leaders said they still have issues with the conservation and groundwater rules. "After weeks and weeks and weeks of discussion, to find that our concerns evidently were not taken seriously is disappointing," said Assembly Republican leader Sam Blakeslee. Republicans have "grave concerns whether or not this actually solves the water problem," he said.
One GOP fear is that new conservation requirements would lead to lawsuits against urban water agencies that don't meet the targets.
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