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.