State Lawmakers Steamed in Heated Water Debate

Just when you thought California's two halves might be getting along, plans to divert water south have Bay Area lawmakers ready to fight

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    TK
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    Leland Yee is all smiles until Arnold Schwarzenegger starts licking his lips with a Southlander's thirst for Bay Area water.

    State Senator Leland Yee despises violence in video games, but when the talk turns to diverting millions of gallons of fresh water from the Sacramento River delta south into the Central Valley and Southern California, his own temper flares.

    "With swimming pools in the desert and lawns in the desert, how do you justify (diverting water) and say you need more water for people to live?"

    Them's fightin' words!

    The comment came in response to a recently failed package of bills related to water-management that failed but is still being pushed by Govnernor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    Combined with efforts to restore freshwater flow into the delta and San Pablo Bay, it would mean possible rationing in the Bay Area during drought years.

    Water rights battles in the arid West are notoriously nasty -- just ask a Pacific Northwesterner how they feel about California's efforts to slurp from the Columbia River basin.

    Except now the fight is being fought under the spectre of climate change and catastrophic global droughts.

    Just ask energy secretary Steven Chu, who has beheld visions of a California unable to support agriculture, much less urban life.

    And he's a Californian.

    Jackson West will be in Hollywood pitching "Chinatown 2: Global Warming Boogaloo" to any agent that will take a meeting.