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Bill would also restore salmon runs on San Joaquin River

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Jim Costa, along with Representatives John Garamendi and Josh Harder, (all 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.

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.

California State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) introduced corresponding legislation in the California legislature to provide an equivalent amount of state funding to restore the canals.

“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,” said Senator Feinstein. “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. But our bill isn’t just a win for farmers, it would also restore vital populations of spring-run Chinook salmon, helping protect this threatened species.”

“It's past the time to repair our aging water infrastructure,” said Representative Costa. “With another drought here, we must act now to repair our broken canals and develop long-term plans for future delivery of water to our communities. This bill will provide funding to restore and increase the resiliency of the Delta-Mendota Canal, Friant-Kern Canal and the California Aqueduct, all critical to deliver water to our valley farms. We know water is the lifeblood for California and the foundation of our agricultural economy. Failing to act on this issue is no longer an option.”

“I am pleased to work with my California colleagues to bring new federal investment to repair our state’s aqueducts and canals, which have fallen into disrepair after years of neglect and land subsidence from groundwater over pumping. All told, our bill would provide the largest federal investment in California’s statewide water infrastructure in decades. Beyond just repairing existing infrastructure, we must make forward-looking investments to modernize California’s water supply to meet our state’s future water needs and become more resilient to climate change. I plan to continue working with my colleagues in California’s Congressional delegation to do just that,” said Representative Garamendi.

 “Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat you need reliable, affordable water,” said Representative Harder. “This bill will do a ton of good to ensure our Central Valley water infrastructure is set up for long term success, and that helps everyone in our community.”

“Senator Feinstein and Congressman Costa deeply understand the importance of food security and safe drinking water for farmworker communities. The introduction of the Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act further proves that,” said State Senator Hurtado. “The Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act and my state bill – the California’s Water Resiliency Act – are crucial complementary steps to securing food to feed our nation and to provide for the workers that sacrifice to make our farms go. It has been an honor these past two years to work side-by-side with these longtime friends of farmers, farmworkers and the communities they live in.”

What the bill does:

  • The bill would authorize a one-third federal cost-share for restoring canal capacity. A bill introduced by California State Senator Melissa Hurtado would authorize one-third of the cost to be paid for by the state, and the remaining one-third would be paid for by local agencies.

  • 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.