Agriculture

$400mil in funding to fix Friant-Kern Canal stalls in Legislature

An effort to deliver nearly a half-billion-dollars to fix the subsidence-caused damage to the Friant-Kern Canal has stalled in the California State Legislature.

Senate Bill 559, authored by Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger) failed to reach the California Senate floor ahead of Friday’s legislative deadline for consideration.

Now, the bill is being converted into what’s known as a “two-year bill,” meaning it is eligible to be approved by the end of January next year.

Senate Bill 559 would send $400 million in state dollars to the Friant Water Authority to fund construction to repair damage caused by sinking ground underneath the canal that spans three counties in eastern San Joaquin Valley.

“This effort is of critical importance to cities, farms, and small communities that depend on water from the Friant-Kern Canal to recharge our groundwater aquifer,” Friant Water Authority CEO Jason Phillips said in a statement.

“Although delaying passage of this bill until next year was not the outcome we were hoping for, we remain committed to working towards creating a successful partnership for funding, and Senator Hurtado’s efforts will be critical toward our success.”

The Visalia Times-Delta reported that extending Senate Bill 559 into a two-year bill could cause construction delays on the canal.

“While $400 million would have provided the necessary fix, even a small amount of State funding would have kept the Friant-Kern Canal Capacity Correction Project on schedule,” Friant told the Times-Delta.

“Additionally, it would have signaled to other partners the state’s commitment and would have encouraged optimism that the Valley’s needs were not going to be dismissed yet again.”

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.