Senate Bill 559 (SB 559) failed to make it to the Senate floor for a vote before the September 13 deadline for the California legislature. The bipartisan bill introduced by Senator Melissa Hurtado seeks to address the failing infrastructure of the Friant-Kern Canal. There is still an opportunity for the legislation to be reconsidered in 2020, as it was extended into a two-year bill during its review in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill will need to clear the state senate before the January 31 deadline for it to remain viable.
“The bipartisan work on SB 559 is just a glimpse of what we can accomplish if we work together,” Senator Hurtado said in a press release. “Although the extension of the bill wasn’t the outcome that we had anticipated, it will provide stakeholders across the board with more opportunities to continue fighting for long-term investments in clean water supply. I look forward to revisiting this conversation next legislative year with my colleagues.”
SB 559 calls for $400 million to be used to finance repairs on the Friant-Kern Canal, which has degraded substantially as a result of significant land subsidence. The canal has lost roughly 60 percent of its overall carrying capacity. A joint statement issued by several agricultural groups including California Citrus Mutual, California Dairies Inc., and the California Fresh Fruit Association highlighting the importance of repairing the canal.
“This project was and is an opportunity for the State to lead a partnership for repairing a facility that benefits all of California and to achieve key policy goals related to achieving sustainable groundwater management and clean drinking water,” the statement read. “Collectively, we remain committed to working towards creating a successful partnership for funding and implementing the Friant-Kern Canal Capacity Correction Project with our federal, State, and local agency partners.”
The Friant-Kern Canal delivers an average of more than one million acre-feet of water every year to more than 18,000 farms throughout the Central Valley. The bill is being supported by several San Joaquin Valley lawmakers, as well as the Fresno and Tulare County Farm Bureaus.