Governor's Panel Says Calif Must Build Water Canal

SACRAMENTO (AP) - A panel of the governor's top advisers is recommending California move swiftly on a massive construction project to pipe water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

In a report issued Friday, the Delta Vision Committee said California should begin building a canal to divert water from the Sacramento River as soon as 2011. It is one of the most controversial strategies included in a final report released by the governor's office after more than two years of hearings.

The report mirrors an earlier draft released by the governor's cabinet-level panel last month.

Advocates have said a canal would reroute water used by two-thirds of Californians away from the fragile delta, which is susceptible to earthquakes, levee breaks and flooding.

But a canal has long been opposed by Northern Californians wary of a water grab by the south. Environmentalists also fear water diversions could harm the delta's native fish.

Voters in 1982 overwhelmingly rejected a similar concept and some Democrats in the Legislature also oppose it.

Natural Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman, chair of the delta panel, said the committee believes a new canal could be built without the Legislature's approval.

"We think it's a reasonable goal to set," Chrisman told reporters on a conference call.

The report also promotes building dams, restoring 100,000 acres of habitat in the delta, and creating another panel to explore how the delta should be governed.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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