Joint Statement by the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, Friant Water Authority, and the State Water Contractors, in Support of S.3811, the Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act
The introduction of the S.3811, the Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act by Sen. Dianne Feinstein is a welcome step toward restoring critically-important water supplies to 27 million Californians, 3 million acres of the nation’s most productive farmland, hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and restoration of the San Joaquin River.
This legislation helps to address the impacts of groundwater subsidence on major portions of California’s water delivery system – infrastructure millions of people depend on for water supply, flood control, and environmental protection.
The bill authorizes $600 million in federal funding for three major projects to repair California’s water delivery system, which has reduced conveyance capacity as a result of subsidence along the canals. The bill provides $200 million for the Friant-Kern Canal, $200 million for the Delta-Mendota Canal, and $200 million for the California Aqueduct. Additionally, the bill provides an additional $200 million in funding for restoration of the San Joaquin River, including environmentally protective infrastructure such as fish screens, fish bypass projects, and control structures necessary to successfully implement the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement.
“The Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act increases federal investments to restore California’s backbone water conveyance infrastructure, which is the foundation on which California’s success is built,” said Federico Barajas, executive director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. “Access to reliable water is vital for California’s people, its environment and its economy. This is about investing in the repair and long-term reliability of California’s water infrastructure that serves millions of people, farmland vital to the nation’s food supply, and the preservation and restoration of California’s environment.”
“By helping to address the conveyance pinch on the Friant-Kern Canal – which has reduced its carrying capacity by as much as 60% in some locations – this bill assists with one of the most critical and desperate needs to achieve long-term sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley. The bill also makes significant investments in implementing the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement, in acknowledgement of the shared future between the Friant Division contractors and the San Joaquin River,” said Jason Phillips, executive director of the Friant Water Authority.
“Successful implementation of the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires that public water agencies have access to the full capacity of the State Water Project’s existing canals. Senator Feinstein’s bill helps restore capacity in existing canals that are used to move water into storage in wet years so it is available in dry years. Restoring canal capacity also supports implementation of water storage projects that produce environmental benefits funded by Proposition 1,” said Jennifer Pierre of the State Water Contractors.
The Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act complements legislation by Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16), the author of H.R. 5752, the Conveyance Capacity Correction Act, and H.R. 5316 by Rep. T.J. Cox (CA-21), the Move Water Now Act. Together, the Senate and House bills, if enacted, will provide significant funding necessary to repair these essential conveyance projects.
Byron-Bethany Irrigation District is a member agency of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.