Senate Bill 559 has returned from the dead a year later and just before the close of session—but stranger things have happened in 2020.
At a cost of $400 million, the bill proposes to fix the crippled Friant-Kern Canal in the San Joaquin Valley, a vital piece of the State Water Project.
In 2019 the Assembly Appropriations Committee delivered a quiet death for the bill by leaving it in the suspense file. It is now up for a committee vote this week, with a few amendments and more strings attached.
The grant money would go to a joint powers authority (JPA), with “a funding match of at least 35% from user fees, local sources, federal funding or a combination of these.” The funding must also be part of “a comprehensive solution” addressing groundwater sustainability and subsidence in the valley.
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Several water experts in panel discussions last week at Fresno State weighed in on the idea of a JPA. This multi-stakeholder entity would handle the fund raising, budget and oversight for major water projects in the valley.
One sustainability plan presented during the discussions would cost about $9 billion but promised to replenish groundwater for farmers, the environment and disadvantaged communities alike.