California district agrees to pay $3.5B to clean up water

Sep 15, 2015 5:17 PM by News Staff

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - The nation's largest irrigation district has agreed to spend $3.5 billion to clean up contaminated water on central California farmland in a tentative deal to settle a decades-old dispute with the federal government.

General manager Thomas Birmingham said Tuesday that Westlands Water District will clean up water tainted by salt that has accumulated in soil from years of irrigation.

He says federal officials have failed for decades to do the work that the district will undertake.

In return for the cleanup, federal officials have agreed to relieve Westlands of $350 million in debt involving construction of the Central Valley Project that supplies water to the district and others.

The tentative deal requires final approval by Congress.

U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., says he opposes the deal because there's no assurance the district will perform the cleanup.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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