Proposal: Calif. farmers could own water pipes

FRESNO, Calif. — The federal government is considering giving Central California farmers some massive water infrastructure to settle a lawsuit over drainage problems that killed birds and left farmland too salty for crops, according to a draft proposal obtained by The Associated Press.

Shifting the cleanup cost to the private sector would save the federal government about $2.2 billion, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said Wednesday.

The complex deal could transfer the government’s stake in local pumps and drain pipes to some of the country’s biggest farming operations, according to a bureau letter detailing the legislative strategy for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

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