Water & Drought

Valley legislators propose $400 million fix for Friant-Kern Canal

Watch local lawmakers gather to highlight bill to fix Friant-Kern Canal

State Senator Melissa Hurtado , together with state and local officials, toured a key section of the Friant-Kern Canal to highlight Senate Bill 559, which will help secure California’s water supply by towards restoring lost conveyance capacity.
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State Senator Melissa Hurtado , together with state and local officials, toured a key section of the Friant-Kern Canal to highlight Senate Bill 559, which will help secure California’s water supply by towards restoring lost conveyance capacity.

A bipartisan group of San Joaquin Valley legislators gathered Friday on a Friant-Kern Canal bank to announce their push for state money to fix one of the region’s major irrigation arteries.

Sens. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, and Andreas Borgeas, R- Fresno with Assemblymembers Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, and Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield announced the introduction of Senate Bill 559. It calls for spending $400 million in state general funds on repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal, which runs 152 miles from Friant Dam east of Fresno to Bakersfield.

About 20 miles of the canal near Terra Bella, where the legislators gathered Friday, has subsided 12 feet below its original design elevation. Experts say that subsidence, caused chiefly by groundwater pumping that has the effect of a rodent burrowing under the canal, has constricted the Friant-Kern’s water delivery capacity by 60 percent.

The Friant-Kern Canal in the San Joaquin Valley is sinking as the valley floor collapses because of subsidence, the result of excessive groundwater pumping. The canal has lost half of its capacity, and will cost $350 million to fix.

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