Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Harris, and Congressmen Mark DeSaulnier, Jerry McNerney and Mike Thompson (all D-Calif.) introduced the Contra Costa Canal Transfer Act, legislation to upgrade Contra Costa’s water infrastructure and canal system.
The bill would transfer the title of the Contra Costa Canal System from the Bureau of Reclamation to the Contra Costa Water District to allow the water district to complete necessary safety improvements to the canal. Since the Contra Costa Canal has been operational, 82 people have drowned in the canal.
“This is commonsense legislation to facilitate much-needed safety improvements to the Contra Costa Canal,” said Senator Feinstein. “If the water district is willing and ready to make these improvements, there’s no reason the federal government should stand in the way. Transferring the title will help save lives and modernize the Contra Costa Canal system.”
“The aging Contra Costa Canal is in need of critical safety and structural improvements to prevent accidents, water leaks, and water quality degradation,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “By transferring ownership of the canal from the federal government to the Contra Costa Water District, we can help streamline these improvements and revitalize the land surrounding the canal for the enjoyment of local residents. I thank Senator Feinstein for her partnership on this legislation, which promises to benefit our local communities.”
Built between 1937 and 1948, the canal delivers water to homes and businesses throughout Contra Costa County, and to the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys for irrigation. The 48-mile canal system is currently exposed, but following the transfer, the water district will enclose it in a surface tunnel to help prevent deadly accidents, including a drowning last year. It would also help improve recreation and land use around the canal system by revitalizing land located in the Concord Naval Weapons Station.
“Gaining title of the Contra Costa Canal is so very important as we look at the future of this critical facility,” said Lisa Borba, President of the Contra Costa Water District’s Board of Directors. “We thank Congressman DeSaulnier and Senator Dianne Feinstein for all the work they are doing to move this bill to a successful outcome.”
“The Contra Costa Canal Transfer Act has the Park District’s support and ensures the existing recreation agreement for Contra Loma Regional Park and Contra Costa Canal Trail continues and is recognized in the legislation. We thank Rep. Desaulnier and Sen. Feinstein for their leadership to pass the Contra Costa Canal Transfer Act and continued support for the East Bay Regional Parks,” said Robert Doyle, General Manager, East Bay Regional Park District.
Senator Feinstein and Congressman DeSaulnier introduced similar legislation last year, which was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives. The legislation was also included in a broader lands package the Senate is expected to vote on soon.