House passes bill to bring more water to California farms

FILE - In this file photo taken Monday, May 18, 2015, farmer Gino Celli climbs out of a irrigation canal that is covered in dried salt on a field he farms near Stockton, Calif. California, grappling with drought, exacted the broadest water cuts on record Friday, June 12, 2015, among farmers and others holding some of the strongest water rights in the state, directing thousands in one of the country’s prime farm regions to stop all pumping from three major waterways. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House has passed GOP-led legislation designed to bring more water to California’s farm belt at a time of severe drought.

Opposition from the White House and congressional Democrats raises doubts about further progress on the legislation. Similar efforts failed in two previous congressional sessions.

The vote Thursday was 245-176.

A four-year drought has forced California communities to cut water use. Some rural areas have been particularly hurt as the state’s water distribution systems curtailed water for agriculture.

The bill is designed to take more water out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. It also seeks to speed up studies for a handful of new or expanded dams.

Democrats say diverting more water to farms will take water from other California communities and harm the state’s salmon fishing industry.

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