PORTERVILLE – Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) along with principal co-authors Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno), Assemblymember Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) and Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), today announced the introduction of Senate Bill 559.
The bipartisan-supported legislation would secure California’s water supply by investing $400 million in general funds towards the Friant-Kern Canal, one of the Central Valley’s most critical water delivery facilities.
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 to 2017. As a result, the canal has suffered the loss of 60 percent of its carrying capacity – constricting the delivery of water to some of California’s most vulnerable communities.
“From 2012 to 2016, California experienced one of the most severe drought conditions. As a result, many of our farmers, families and entire communities within the Central Valley continue to experience limited access to one of their most fundamental rights – clean water,” Hurtado said.
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“The Valley’s socioeconomic health depends on the conveyance of clean and safe water. Not only does this canal support nearly 1.2 million acres of family farms in California, but it provides one in every five jobs directly related to agriculture,” continued Hurtado. “For this reason, I am proud to stand with my colleagues to introduce SB 559. This legislation prioritizes our most disadvantage communities by restoring water supply in the Central Valley.”
The 152 mile canal, which runs from Friant Dam to the Kern River in Bakersfield, conveys water for groundwater storage and clean drinking water for some of the state’s most vulnerable communities. Moreover, the canal provides irrigation for more than 18,000 individual family farms– almost a quarter of the Valley’s agriculture land and 22 percent of all farms in California.
“The Friant-Kern Canal has lost 60 percent of its carrying capacity in some locations. This problem threatens about 350,000 acres of highly productive farmland below the damaged portion of the canal, and also limit opportunities to maximize groundwater recharge projects that will be very important to helping the Valley comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” said Jason Phillips, CEO, Friant Water Authority. “On behalf of the farmers, businesses and communities who rely on the Friant-Kern Canal, we very much appreciate Senator Hurtado’s leadership on this legislation.”
“Water is the lifeblood of the Valley and the backbone of California’s economy. Senate Bill 559 is a step towards bringing the Friant-Kern Canal to its full capacity and addressing the State’s critical water needs,” Salas said. “This measure will invest in our future by building water infrastructure projects and helping our local water districts fulfill their sustainable groundwater management plans.”
For more information, go to https://sd14.senate.ca.gov/.