Calif. growers demand help in water crisis

Chanting "agua, agua, agua," bus-loads of farmworkers joined Valley politicians Wednesday at the Capitol to demand that lawmakers spend state money on dams and canals to ease a growing water crisis. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants $9.3 billion for water supply and conservation projects. But the proposed bond has gotten a lukewarm response from Democratic leaders who say lawmakers should focus on negotiating a state budget, now 24 days late.

Wednesday's rally was designed to give a human face to the state's water woes. At least 300 farmworkers, most from the Valley’s parched west side, marched and carried homemade sings declaring

"agua es vida," or water is life, and "agua trabajo," water equals work.

The event was organized by farm labor contractor Piedad Ayala and the California Latino Water Coalition, a group of city and business leaders.

Schwarzenegger addressed the workers from the Capitol’s steps just below the Assembly chambers. He blamed legislators for the impasse.

"When will they finally get it upstairs?" he said.

"Everyone needs water," he added. "This is not a political issue."

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