Press Releases

Bill would also restore salmon runs on San Joaquin River

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act, a bill to authorize more than $653 million to restore the capacity of three San Joaquin Valley canals. 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.

Congressman Jim Costa, with support from Congressmen John Garamendi and Josh Harder (all D-Calif.), previously introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

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 the Friant Dam.

“Damage to canals in the San Joaquin Valley has significantly reduced their capacity to carry water, increasing the risk of drought and making farmers’ jobs even harder,” Senator Feinstein said. “We can work together at the federal, state and local levels to ensure there will be more water for Californians. In addition to being a win for farmers, our bill would also restore runs vital to the Chinook salmon, helping protect this threatened species.”

 “We must increase storage in wet years like this one to ensure we can withstand the next long dry spell,” Congressman Costa said. “My bill would provide federal funding to restore the Friant-Kern Canal, Delta-Mendota Canal and California Aqueduct to their full carrying capacity. Restoring this infrastructure is critical to delivering water to our farms and communities across the San Joaquin Valley.”

“Nature gave us a lifeline this year and California’s water managers are working to replenish our depleted reservoirs and groundwater basins following three years of drought. Unfortunately, subsidence has reduced the capacity of our water conveyance system and it is impacting how we can respond to the record rain and snow we received this year. This legislation authorizes repairs to California’s water conveyance infrastructure to ensure a more resilient water supply future, one that can withstand the impacts of climate whiplash and continue to deliver clean, reliable and affordable water to Southern California,” said Adel Hagekhalil, CEO of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

 “ACWA is pleased to support the reintroduction of Senator Feinstein’s Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act. With the impacts of subsidence and climate change, this is a much-needed bill to improve water storage and delivery to support communities throughout California,” said Dave Eggerton, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies.

“The Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act would provide much needed federal financial assistance in restoring the original conveyance capacity to the major canals affected by subsidence in the San Joaquin Valley, improving California’s drought resilience through reconstruction of reaches on the Friant Kern Canal, the Delta Mendota Canal and the California Aqueduct,” said Jason Phillips, CEO of the Friant Water Authority. “While this water delivery infrastructure was built decades ago, it is still the heart and soul of the water delivery system on the east and west sides of the San Joaquin Valley and to Southern California. Restoring these major canals would also help to move the floodwaters to groundwater recharge areas to store as much runoff as possible during good water years like 2023.”

What the bill does:

  • The bill would authorize a one-third federal cost share for restoring canal capacity.

  • 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 may also not be used to enlarge the capacity of any canal, except for a temporary increase to mitigate anticipated future subsidence.