Costa introduces legislation to repair major California canals

Costa introduces legislation to repair major California canals

California’s water supply system could get help from the federal government with a new bill introduced in Congress.

Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) introduced the Canal Transmission Capacity Restoration Act to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to repair four major canals and aqueducts in the Golden State.

The big picture: If Costa can get the approval of his colleagues in Congress, more than $650 million would be sent to California for repairs to the water supply system.

The San Joaquin River is also a focus of the bill, which would restore its salmon runs. Representatives John Garamendi (D–Walnut Grove) and Josh Harder (D–Turlock) co-sponsored the bill.

By the numbers: The Canal Transmission Capacity Restoration Act would authorize one-third of the federal cost in the amount of $833.4 million for the following four projects:

$180 million to restore the Friant-Kern Canal $183.9 million to restore the Delta Mendota Canal $289.5 million to restore the California Aqueduct $180 million to restore salmon runs in the San Joaquin River

Go deeper: Costa sees the bill as a way to help Central Valley farmers comply with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which passed in 2014 and requires local groundwater sustainability agencies in critically overdrawn areas create groundwater sustainability plans.

In early March, the California Department of Water Resources denied the groundwater sustainability plans of six Central Valley subbasins, which could lead to direct state intervention in their water management. Costa’s bill also stipulates that the money can only be used for restoration projects, excluding funds from going toward new water conservation projects or upgrades to existing reservoirs. Funding is also prohibited from being used to expand the capacity of any channel, except for a temporary increase to mitigate anticipated future decreases.

What they’re saying: Costa said in a statement that his bill is designed to help increase water conservation in wet years to help deal with future droughts.

“Restoring this infrastructure is critical to getting water to our farms and communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley,” Costa said. “Wet years like this remind us once again how important adequate water storage and transportation infrastructure is to California’s resilience to drought,” said Jason Phillips, CEO of the Friant Water Authority. “The Canal Transmission Capacity Restoration Act makes critical funds available to restore capacity to the Friant-Kern Canal and other key transportation facilities and will improve water storage and distribution to support farms and communities across the state and food security for the nation.”

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