Central Valley Canals Primed to Receive Support for Failing Infrastructure

Brian German Agri-Business, Water

Concurrent efforts to address the needs of Central Valley canals are moving forward. The Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act aims to restore the capacity of here San Joaquin Valley canals. The legislation was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Jim Costa, John Garamendi, and Josh Harder last week. More than $653 million in federal funding would be provided to support repairs of the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta Mendota Canal, and the California Aqueduct.

Central Valley Canals - Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration

“A severe lack of water is causing land to sink throughout California. One harmful effect of this subsidence is the damage it has caused to canals throughout the San Joaquin Valley, significantly reducing their capacity to carry water,” Senator Feinstein said in a press release. “However, we can restore that 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.

The bill also includes $180 million to help restore salmon runs on the San Joaquin River. Similar legislation to address the needs of Central Valley canals was introduced by California State Senator Melissa Hurtado back in February. The Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act explicitly prohibits using the funds for the construction of new surface storage or expanding existing reservoirs. Combined with Senator Hurtado’s Senate Bill 559, the legislation would equally divide the cost for repairs between federal, state, and local agencies.

Efforts to address subsidence issues in the Friant-Kern Canal specifically were also bolstered by a recent agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation. The Friant Water Authority Board of Directors has finalized a cost-share agreement detailing the plans for restoration. The financing plan consists of $424 million in support from a variety of sources. Funding will be provided by Friant-Kern Canal contractors, the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency, the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, and the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations package. Overall, the project will restore the capacity of the canal by up to 60 percent in areas most affected by subsidence.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West