SACRAMENTO -- After weeks of closed-door negotiations, state lawmakers will begin hearings next week on water legislation aimed at improving the state's water delivery system while protecting the environment.
Democrats, Republicans and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have yet to agree on the proposals, but interest groups involved in the talks are reporting progress. The parties are entering a critical week of negotiations as they seek to hammer out a deal that has eluded them for years.
A joint Senate-Assembly committee will hold an informational hearing Monday. No votes are scheduled yet. Here is a look at the latest proposal:
Borrowing: A bond in the range of $7 billion to $10 billion would pay for projects such as dams, groundwater banking and environmental upgrades in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Details still are sketchy, but the bond could include $3 billion for dams, possibly one east of Fresno.
Delta oversight: A new seven-member council would be charged with adopting a long-range management plan for the troubled estuary by 2012. The plan would include strategies to boost the reliability of water exports while protecting the ecosystem.
The bill does not authorize a long-envisioned canal to move water around the delta southward. But the council would incorporate the canal into its plans -- if it meets environmental standards and is approved by an ongoing program called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.
Conservation: The state would be required to reduce per-capita urban water use by 20% by 2020, but not every water district would have to meet that threshold. Districts that don't meet their targets would be ineligible for state grants and loans. Agriculture water suppliers would not have to meet specific targets, but would submit plans to use water more efficiently.
Ground-water monitoring: Water agencies would be required to report how much water they are extracting from aquifers. Agencies that don't comply with the new rules could be ineligible for grants or loans.
Water rights: The State Water Resources Control board would gain stronger powers to enforce water rights laws.