RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. -- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar urged California on Wednesday to modernize its antiquated water system while pledging $260 million in federal stimulus money to help fund a variety of water projects.
He and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took an aerial tour of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the conduit through which Northern California water flows to millions of acres of farmland and some 25 million people in the San Francisco Bay area and Southern California.
The delta has become a highly troubled resource, with state water pumping, urban and agricultural pollution, and three years of below-average precipitation wreaking havoc on its habitat and the state's water supplies.
After the helicopter flyover, Salazar told reporters that California's massive system of reservoirs, pumps and canals was outdated, built a half century ago and designed for a population half the size of today's 37.7 million.
He pledged that the federal government was ready to help California overhaul its system and deal with its drought.