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.

Interested in more coverage and insights? Receive a free month of Agri-Pulse West.

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.