FRESNO COUNTY, California (KSEE) – Lawmakers are taking new action on water and California’s drought.
On Thursday, Congressman Jim Costa introduced legislation designed to improve vital irrigation canals – and Congressman David Valadao called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a drought emergency.
Both Rep. Jim Costa and Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced the Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act. It would help address infrastructure issues in the California Aqueduct, the Friant-Kern Canal, and the Delta-Mendota Canal. All are key sources of water for Central Valley farmers.
“This act will improve the water supply and water quality for 27 million Californians,” Costa said. “It does by restoring surface water delivery capacity.”
The Central Valley Democrat says people all the way down in the Los Angeles area would benefit from the improvements. The federal funding would also help Fresno.
“It provides non-reimbursable federal funding for the city of Fresno so they don’t have to raise rates,” Costa said. “They don’t have to raise rates to repair the Friant-Kern canal.”
According to the Water Education Foundation, parts of the California Aqueduct have lost up to 20% of its carrying capacity due to land subsidence from groundwater extraction. As California faces another bad drought year, lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are worried.
Also on Thursday, Congressman David Valladao joined California’s Republican congressional delegation in an open letter to Gov. Newsom asking him to declare a state of emergency due to the state’s drought and water shortages.
“He needs to be acting sooner,” Valdao said. “The fact that the federal government is paying attention to this before our own state governor is one of my biggest problems with this whole issue.”
Valadao also says he would be open to supporting the improvements needed in the canals, and feels he could get behind Costa’s Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act.
“I haven’t seen the final text personally yet,” Valadao said. “But we are looking at the bill. I’m sure there is a lot of it I do support.”
A spokesperson for Congressman Costa says the bill could be included in a future infrastructure package, and a timeline of when it could be voted on will not be determined for at least the next few weeks.