SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento is launching a controversial pilot project where it sells its river water to farmers down south.

Many Sacramento residents are still doing what they can to conserve and reuse water, and the city still has some conservation measures in place, including limiting outdoor watering to just two days a week.

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But local water providers have filed an application to divert up to 12,000 acre feet of water from the river, or enough to supply 12,000 homes for a year, and sell it to water districts in the Fresno and Bakersfield areas.

“This is a situation where we have water to provide them and we can provide them with water,” said Sacramento city utilities director Bill Busath.

He says the water isn’t coming from conservation.

“We are going to use more groundwater for a short period of time than we normally would use,” he said. “That frees up surface water.”

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The city will get more than $2 million from the sale and plans to put that money toward modernizing the city’s 27 underground wells to make sure they are ready for the next drought.

“Some of our wells are 50 to 60 years old,” Busath said. “This is a great funding source for us to rehab these wells.”

And it helps California farmers, some of whom are only getting 35 percent of their water allotment this year.

“Farming is a very important part of our state economy,” he said.

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The city says residents won’t notice a difference in the taste of the supplemental groundwater, which it says meets all federal and state standards.