Senate bill aims to fund canal repairs


FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — SB-559 funds the repair of four major canals and aqueducts crisscrossing the Valley at a cost of $785 million.

Sinking ground, or subsidence, has reduced the capacity of the Friant-Kern Canal to less than half.

This transports water from Millerton Lake to cities and farms through Fresno, Tulare and Kern Counties. The canals are gravity-powered, built on a gentle slope. The ground has sunk nearly 12 feet along parts of the canal, limiting it to carrying just a fraction of its original design. Subsidence continues to limit capacity more and more each year.

State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) says, “We’re in a bit of a crisis, now. And I fear for the worst to be honest with you. This is something — fixing the Friant-Kern Canal — is something that should have happened years ago.  And it’s still being debated today.”

Senate Bill 559 is Senator Hurtado’s second attempt to fund these repairs. Her bill two years ago to repair the canal– although enjoying plenty of support — was vetoed. This new version includes all four major canals crisscrossing the Valley instead of just the Friant-Kern Canal.

“We need $785 million to repair all four of our water delivery systems here in the Valley. And so far we have a down payment of $200 million.  And this is at a time where we’re facing a water crisis.”

If passed by the California State Assembly, SB-559 then goes to Gov. Newsom.

Hurtado says, “We have the ability to have the infrastructure and get it right and avoid crisis but it requires investment and buy-in and understanding that this is a very serious situation.”

Read SB-559 here.

An illustration of subsidence impacting the Friant-Kern Canal is available here.

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July 23 2021 05:30 pm

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