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Rep. Jim Costa and U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein introduced the bipartisan Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act on Thursday, a bill to authorize more than $653 million to restore the capacity of three San Joaquin Valley canals.

Official U.S. House portrait of Rep. Jim Costa

“We know we have a broken water system and we know there’s a lot that we need to do to improve our water supply and our water quality.” – Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno

Restoring these canals would improve California’s drought resilience and help farmers comply with limits on groundwater pumping under the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, Costa’s office said in a news release.

“We know we have a broken water system and we know there’s a lot that we need to do to improve our water supply and our water quality,” Costa told reporters during a virtual news conference Thursday afternoon. “One of the most precious resources we have is water. Where water flows, food grows.”

The bill also authorizes an additional $180 million to restore salmon runs on the San Joaquin River. The funding is for fish passage structures, levees, and other improvements that will allow the threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon to swim freely upstream from the ocean to Friant Dam.

Feinstein: A Win for Farmers and Fish

“We can restore that (canal) capacity if we work together at the federal, state, and local levels, ensuring that there will be more water for farmers and to combat subsidence,” Feinstein said in a news release. “But our bipartisan bill isn’t just a win for farmers, it would also restore salmon runs vital to the Chinook salmon, helping protect this threatened species.”

State Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, has corresponding legislation in the California Legislature to fund canal fixes. She has been trying to win approval since 2019.

“The reality is that this investment really benefits the entire nation because the region supplies food for the nation and beyond,” said Hurtado.

portrait of state Sen. Melissa Hurtado

“The reality is that this investment really benefits the entire nation because the region supplies food for the nation and beyond.” State Sen. Melissa Hurtado

What The Bill Does

The bill would authorize a one-third federal cost-share for restoring canal capacity. Meanwhile, Hurtado’s bill would authorize one-third of the cost to be paid for by the state and one-third by local agencies. The bill would authorize $833.4 million for four major projects:

  • $180 million to restore the Friant-Kern Canal.
  • $183.9 million to restore the Delta Mendota Canal.
  • $289.5 million to restore the California Aqueduct.
  • $180 million to restore salmon runs on the San Joaquin River.

The funding may not be used to build new surface storage or raise existing reservoirs. It also can’t be used to enlarge canal capacity — except a temporary increase to mitigate future subsidence.

GV Wire asked Costa why storage wasn’t included in the package, and whether it was off the table.

“No, it’s not off the table,” responded Costa. He says there’s separate legislation for a seismic retrofit of the San Luis Reservoir and raising it by 10 feet to add about 140,000 acre-feet of water storage.

Costa says he has yet to find any significant opposition to the bill he introduced today.

“I’m always attempting to find the art of the possible,” said Costa.

3 Responses

  1. Paul

    The bills concering water flow and valley agriculture are vital infrastructure for the future well being of our valley. This is posivtive action and good for everyone. Now in contrast, Devin Nunes is sponsoring a fest of leading rasists, conspiracy theorists , and pseudo intellectuals to fills his campaign coffers. What real legislation has he contributed? Is anyone concerned?

    Reply
    • todd stevens

      What is concerning is the influence fake news has had on people like yourself, who calls people racist without any evidence of actual acts of racism. on the contrary, democrats are actively promoting racism every day, and legislating it. Stop the lies and get some perspective! There are very few racists in this country, and racism is not a major problem, but you and other ignorant fools have been convinced otherwise by democrat politicians, and the extremely biased leftist-activist propaganda from CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, Google, Facebook, etc. that you believe is truth. They are dividing us for a reason. Stop being fooled.

      Reply
  2. art ramirez

    This bill is much need for our Kern Friant Canal, like all infrastructure , it needs attention. This water system is the life line to the east side of the valley on only to Farming but also to The City of Fresno, Orange Cove, Lindsay, Strathmore and Terra Bella who also rely on it. The Smaller Communities like the Family Farmers need a reliable source of water, and don’t have deep pockets to be able weather dry years ( putting in Wells). I hope Sen. Feinstein gets the support need to get is bill threw, She always is willing to listen to our needs. Lets hope she can find common ground with Her colleagues and make this happen for the common good!

    Reply

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