The Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations and COVID-relief package includes funding support for making Friant-Kern Canal improvements. A total of $206 million will be used to repair areas of the water conveyance system. The money will be directed to the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project.
“Since we began working to restore the Friant-Kern Canal’s capacity more than three years ago, one of the most common questions we’ve been asked is how we plan to finance the project, and whether the Federal government would be a meaningful funding partner for fixing this Federally-owned facility,” Friant Water Authority (FWA) Chief Executive Officer Jason Phillips said in a press release. “Today, the answer to that question became clear. Once again, we’ve seen the President and his administration prioritize and follow through with actions and projects that will deliver actual water supply benefits for the San Joaquin Valley’s communities and farms.”
The estimated cost to make the Friant-Kern Canal improvements on a 33-mile stretch of the canal is $500 million. Construction on the project is expected to begin in early 2021. Several different efforts have been undertaken in recent years to make repairs to the canal. Senator Melissa Hurtado has been working to generate support for improvements to the water conveyance system. Hurtado authored a bill to provide $400 million for repairs, which was ultimately vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom.
“This is great news for not only the Central Valley farms that feed the world, but also our hardworking farmworker families who power this economy and who deserve the clean drinking water that will come as result of this investment,” Hurtado said in a news release. “Now that Congress has done its part, I plan to re-introduce legislation this session to ensure the state becomes a true partner on funding and implementing this project as quickly as possible.”
After some initial hesitation, President Donald Trump signed the funding bill into law Sunday night.