Press release provided by Senator Melissa Hurtado
On January 25th, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) released the following statement after attending the historical groundbreaking of construction on much needed repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal:
“This year will mark a turning point in human security due to the increasing water scarcity across Western States,” said Senator Hurtado. “Now more than ever we need to secure clean water for generations to come. Today’s groundbreaking will allow us to conserve this precious natural resource that represents life, food, good health and so much more. This major milestone is the hard work of many men and women before me.”
Senate Bill 559—The State Water Resiliency Act of 2021—as introduced would have allocated $785 million to repair vital water delivery systems that provide drinking water to communities throughout California and to sustain the state’s leading agricultural economy. The funds would have gone to fixing the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta-Mendota Canal, and major portions of the California Aqueduct, all of which have degraded and are losing water as a result of subsidence – the actual shrinking of land. Congressman Jim Costa and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein have companion legislation in Congress.
In his May Revise, Governor Gavin Newsom proposed $200 million to help repair the canals. In the budget ultimately adopted by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, $100 million was allocated to fixing the canals. An additional $100 million has been proposed in this year’s budget.
Senate Bill 559 passed out of the Appropriations Committee on August 26, 2021, with amendments that would place fund administration under the Department of Water Resources in consultation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Under these amendments, the departments would have to follow various guidelines and conduct studies in order for funding to be released and allocated. These requirements will further complicate the process and the fund disbursement, slowing construction on the State’s water conveyance canals. Assembly Appropriations amendments also removed the intent language outlining where funding should be allocated and deleted the specific funding allotments planned for in SB 559 as introduced.