Press Release: Provide by Senator Melissa Hurtado

May 23, 2019

SACRAMENTO, CA – State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) today announced collaborative efforts with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein to protect tens of thousands of disadvantaged communities and family farmers in the state of California. The partnership will include coordinating efforts at the state and federal level to address the Central Valley’s most immediate needs of restoring clean water supply by repairing the conveyance capacity on the Friant-Kern Canal.

In February, Senator Melissa Hurtado introduced Senate Bill 559 (SB 559), legislation that requests $400 million in general funds towards the Friant-Kern Canal. SB 559, which passed through the Senate floor and will move to the Assembly, is principal co-authored by Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno), Assemblymember Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), and Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield). Furthermore, the bill has received support from Central Valley members including Sens. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) and Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) and Assemblymembers Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals) and Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield). 

“I am thankful for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s leadership throughout the years on California water issues,” said Senator Melissa Hurtado. “California’s water delivery infrastructure, which is meant to provide both water delivery for immediate needs and drought resiliency for the future, is unable to perform as intended. As a result, water supplies that could be used by our communities, farms and the environment, aren’t being utilized to its full capacity.”

“Senator Hurtado’s bill will be an excellent complement to my efforts to secure federal funding to restore the Friant-Kern Canal,” said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. “The effects of subsidence on the canal are alarming, and the long-term impacts on the San Joaquin Valley’s water supply are especially disturbing. A fully-functioning Friant-Kern canal is part of a resilient, thriving economy in the San Joaquin Valley.”

Currently, the Friant-Kern Canal’s conveyance capacity has degraded due to several factors, including severe land subsidence caused by regional groundwater overdraft. A portion of the canal, roughly 20 miles long, has subsided twelve feet below its original design elevation, including three feet of subsidence from 2014 – 2017. As a result, the canal has lost 60 percent of its carrying capacity past the conveyance pinch – constricting the delivery of water to some of California’s most vulnerable communities.

“This bill is a necessary step to providing reliable water to our Central Valley families and farmers. The Friant-Kern Canal is essential to water delivery in the Central Valley and I’m proud to support this bipartisan effort,” said Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) who will be added on as a principle co-author when SB 559 goes to the California State Assembly.

“SB 559 is California’s opportunity to grapple with clean drinking water, groundwater recharge, and subsidence problems in the Central Valley,” said Senator Borgeas. “Water is the lifeblood of the Valley and I’m proud to be a principal co-author in this bipartisan effort.”

About Senator Melissa Hurtado

Senator Melissa Hurtado is an advocate for expanding access to health care and clean water, growing educational opportunities and creating more quality jobs. She represents the 14th Senate District in California, which includes cities in Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties. Senator Hurtado was born in Fresno, California and was raised in the City of Sanger, where she still resides with her family.

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