WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democratic lawmakers from California have introduced legislation intended to increase the flow of water to the state's parched San Joaquin Valley, where farmers have idled thousands of acres.

The bill, introduced Wednesday, would make it easier for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to approve transfers between water sellers and buyers in the valley, a major producer of fruits, vegetables, nuts and dairy products. It also streamlines environmental reviews related to the endangered giant garter snake.

Three years of below-normal precipitation combined with court-ordered restrictions on pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are leading causes of the shortage.

The bill is being sponsored by the state's two senators and two members of the House of Representatives.

Copyright 2009 The AP.

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