Friant-Kern Canal in California
Photo by Dennis Silvas (

Press Release Provided by Senator Melissa Hurtado

Senator Melissa Hurtado
Senator Melissa Hurtado

In late April, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) released the following statement after her bill, SB 559—the State Water Resiliency Act of 2021—was approved by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee by a 6-0 vote:

“We are on the verge of a global food crisis and Californians can avoid by learning from the crisis in 1974,” said Senator Hurtado. “Hunger and famine are not just a reality in some far away land anymore, it could be a real possibility for Americans if we fail to be proactive. The State Water Resiliency Act of 2021 will provide much needed funding for canal conveyance repairs throughout the Central Valley that will impact more than 31 million Californians. These projects represent access and reliability of clean, safe, drinking water, health, jobs, and our food supply chain. Two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts come from California–one-third of its vegetables– and this drought, as well as the damage to our water infrastructure has threatened our ability to produce food at the volume we do. SB 559 provides us the opportunity to not only plan for our future, but to protect it as well.”

“The federal and state-owned canals identified in Senator Hurtado’s bill are critical to California’s climate change resilience because they help to move water when it’s wet for storage and use during inevitable droughts,” said Jennifer Pierre, General Manager of the State Water Contractors. “Ignoring California’s conveyance subsidence problems or delaying action on repairs would have devastating effects on our economy, quality of life, climate resiliency, food security, ecosystem health and public safety. Most of California will benefit from these repairs, and together with federal funding and a local cost share, we have an opportunity with SB 559 to secure our limited water resources for the people, farms, businesses, ecosystems and disadvantaged communities that depend on it.”

“Two years ago, Senator Hurtado recognized that a lack of conveyance capacity was a major factor in the water crisis facing the San Joaquin Valley and introduced a bill to restore conveyance capacity in the Friant-Kern Canal,” said Jason Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of Friant Water Authority. “This year, her leadership is helping to address the water supply needs of more than 31 million Californians living in some of our most vulnerable communities in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. We are thankful to the Senator and the members of the committee who understand and appreciate her vision for clean drinking water and economic prosperity for all.”

The State Water Resiliency Act of 2021 will allocate $785 million to repair vital water delivery systems that provide drinking water to communities throughout California and water to sustain the state’s leading agricultural economy. The funds would go 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.

The Senator is also a co-author of the Water Innovation Act of 2021, which will create the Office of Water Innovation at the California Water Commission–furthering new technologies and other approaches within the water sector. The Senator has also introduced Senate Bill 464, which will expand the eligibility for state funded food benefits to undocumented immigrants, ensuring all residents can access food assistance. Senator Hurtado’s SB 108 which will declare it to be state policy that all people have access to sufficient, healthy food.

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