California Voters Approve $7.5 Billion in Water Bonds

California voters enduring a record drought approved a $7.5 billion bond measure to upgrade water systems after Governor Jerry Brown said it was needed to shore up supplies.

Proposition 1 passed 68.1 percent to 31.9 percent, with 14 percent of precincts reporting, according to preliminary results from the Associated Press.

The drought, after three years of below-normal rain and snowfall, has left reservoirs less than half full and water for the nation’s most productive agricultural region rationed. Some cities now restrict use and residents face fines for waste.

Proposition 1 was put on the ballot by lawmakers and Brown in August, replacing an $11 billion measure that former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger negotiated in 2009. Brown, a 76-year-old Democrat, said that proposal was loaded with what he called pork-barrel spending and was unlikely to pass muster with voters.

The bonds will add to the $75 billion of general-obligation debt California has outstanding and $25 billion authorized but not yet sold.

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