The dams would be part of a wider package to improve water storage in the state, both above and below ground. Schwarzenegger said the dams were needed while he was launching a plan to improve environmental and habitat conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Later this year he plans to once again put his water plan, including US$120M of specific delta restoration projects, forward for legislative approval. He emphasises that the delta is also a major water resource for the people of the state and the economy, and cited the threat to water security seen by the state’s water engineers if action is not taken soon.

The move in identifying the specific delta projects helped to bring the main investment need for dams and storage back into focus, as it would take the major share of budget spend. Improvements in water storage have not kept pace with strong population and economic growth, he said, being frustrated at the delays in getting projects underway.

Earlier this year he introduced a US$5.9B water plan, of which US$4.5M was earmarked for establishing reservoirs and below ground storage. The scheme also includes US$1B for restoration of the delta – which may or may not cover the US$120M of specific projects identified – and a new water conveyance system. The water plan also includes US$250M to support restoration projects on the Klamath, San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers.

In addition, the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force is to deliver a management plan with findings issued by the beginning of 2008, and a strategic plan completed by October next year. The plans will specify steps to improve water storage, including key projects.