US May Sell Water System to California
THE Bush administration is considering a request by California Gov. Pete Wilson to take control of the massive federal water system that supplies 20 percent of the state's water, an official said Wednesday.Skip to next paragraph
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Wilson formally asked the Interior Department Tuesday to start talks on transferring the 57-year-old Central Valley Project (CVP) - a 500-mile system of reservoirs and canals - to the state, which is suffering from a severe six-year drought.
"It's an intriguing offer that deserves serious consideration," said Interior Department spokesman Steve Goldstein.
Goldstein said a six-month negotiating timetable suggested by Wilson could be met if the administration agreed to sell. The CVP provides irrigation for tens of thousands of farmers and is also a source of electricity.
Wilson's request came as the Senate Energy Committee prepared to vote yesterday on a bill that would make sweeping reforms in water policy - including the transfer of 20 percent of CVP water from farmers to restore endangered fish runs and waterfowl habitat. The House has already passed a water bill.