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Peripheral canal arguments - pro and con

Here are some of the canal arguments California voters will have to try to sort out between now and June 8:

* Pro-canal. Projected southern California growth into the next century, combined with loss to Arizona of much water the area now receives from the Colorado River make completion of the canal essential, according to the Metropolitan Water District (Met) - the legendarily powerful Los Angeles-based public authority that exercises a strong influence on the water destiny of the region. The canal legislation provides better protection than ever to Bay Area water interests and to northern rivers. Water is desperately needed for the farms of the Central Valley. Urban users will face water rationing if droughts occur in future years unless the canal is built. No state tax money will be used to construct the canal and related facilities, and it will cost rate payers less than $1 a month.

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* Anti-canal. Protection to fisheries and wild rivers provided in Proposition 8 and SB200 are of doubtful value and can be repealed by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. California can't afford the project, which not only will cost much more than expected but will consume enormous amount of electrical power (for pumping). Projections of water needs are inflated and, besides, future needs can be met through other means including conservation and more efficient irrigation methods as well as more realistic charges for it. Residential users, who consume only about 5 percent of the supply, would be subsidizing agriculture , which gets 85 percent of the water.

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