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I read an example in "Merriam Webster dictionaries" which was:

The trout population in the stream is burgeoning now that the water is clean.

I think the word "that" has been used to mean "because" in this context. But I wanted to ask whether it is necessarily preceded by "now" to be understood that way.

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This construction is fine: The subject (reason) is appropriately linked (by the linking verb is) to the noun phrase

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