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State Lawmakers Approve Plan to Improve Californians’ Access to Drinking Water Using Clean-Air Funding

A man carries a case of water from a store to his car on Aug. 24, 2016, in Porterville, a Central Valley farming community where many families do not have a hookup for city water and depend on well water, which tests show contains dangerously high levels of nitrates. (Credit: Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)

A man carries a case of water from a store to his car on Aug. 24, 2016, in Porterville, a Central Valley farming community where many families do not have a hookup for city water and depend on well water, which tests show contains dangerously high levels of nitrates. (Credit: Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)

The California state Assembly has approved a bill that would spend up to $130 million a year to improve drinking water.

About a million people in California don’t have access to clean drinking water. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a tax on residential water bills to fix that. But lawmakers rejected it.

Instead, legislative leaders reached a compromise with Newsom to take some money out of a fund used to improve air quality and use it for drinking water.

Some environmental groups say it’s inappropriate to use the money this way. But bill author Sen. Bill Monning has said it is an appropriate because climate change has impacted water quality.

The state Assembly approved the proposal on Friday by a vote of 67-0. It now heads to the state Senate.

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