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Costa Bill Seeks $833M for Canal Repairs, San Joaquin River Salmon



A new bill from Rep. Jim Costa seeks $653 million to repair three Valley canals and $180 million for San Joaquin River salmon restoration. (GV Wire Composite/David Rodriguez)
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Rep. Jim Costa has introduced a water savings bill that might appeal to communities, farmers, fishermen, and environmentalists.

The Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act introduced last week by the Fresno Democrat calls for $653 million to restore the capacity of three San Joaquin Valley canals while also investing $180 million to continue restoring salmon runs on the San Joaquin River.

“We must increase storage in wet years like this one to ensure we can withstand the next long dry spell,” said Costa in a news release. “My bill would provide federal funding to restore the Friant-Kern Canal, Delta-Mendota Canal, and California Aqueduct to their full carrying capacity. Restoring this infrastructure is critical to delivering water to our farms and communities across the San Joaquin Valley.”

The bill authorizes a one-third federal cost share for restoring canal capacity. Specifically, it provides $180 million to restore the Friant-Kern Canal, $183.9 million for the Delta Mendota Canal, and $289.5 million for the California Aqueduct.

Funds Can’t Be Used for New Dams or to Raise Dams

The funding may not be used to build new surface storage or raise existing reservoirs. It may also not be used to enlarge the capacity of any canal, except for a temporary increase to mitigate anticipated future subsidence.

Reps. John Garamendi (D-Contra Costa) and Josh Harder (D-Tracy) are the bill’s co-sponsors.

Improving the canals, which have lost capacity because of subsidence caused by overpumping and neglect, would improve California’s drought resilience and save water.

“California’s climate whiplash shows how critical it is to make investments in infrastructure to ensure that when we have these sporadic periods of snow and rain, we are well-positioned to move and store it for the inevitable future dry periods,” said Jennifer Pierre, general manager of State Water Contractors, an association of 27 public water agencies.

“Canal repair is an absolutely necessary component to ensuring we can fully take advantage of these wet conditions and (this bill) will provide the necessary funding to get it done.”

Said Federico Barajas, executive director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority: “The Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act provides necessary federal funding to restore these facilities to their full design capacity and continues to advance the local-state-federal partnership that will be necessary to restore and expand California’s water infrastructure – a system which provides national food security, improves our regional and statewide economy, and protects ecosystems and habitats important to listed species and migratory waterfowl on the Pacific Flyway.”

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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