Ten state lawmakers representing parts of the San Joaquin Valley are urging the Newsom administration to add more long-term infrastructure investment to his budget plan.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s January budget proposal includes $100 million for repairing conveyance canals, the second half of a commitment in the 2021 budget. The bipartisan group of lawmakers called that “just a drop in the bucket compared to what we need.” They are asking for an additional $585 million to fully fund projects in partnership with local and federal agencies.

“We are facing what is shaping up to be a disastrous drought,” they wrote in a letter to Newsom last week. “One that could dramatically affect our ability to produce at the levels of food needed to adequately feed the people of our state, and to ensure adequate access to clean drinking water for them.”

Looking for the best, most comprehensive and balanced news source in agriculture? Our Agri-Pulse editors don't miss a beat! Sign up for a free month-long subscription.

The letter points out that growers have fallowed 100,000 acres of rice in the Central Valley in recent years, at a loss of 8,000 pounds of rice per acre. They worry this could lead to a food crisis like the one that crippled the state in 1974.

“With a $41 billion budget surplus, it’s baffling that the state hasn’t funded its full share of the three-way (local, feds, state) split of cost of repairs to aqueducts, roads and bridges critical to the Central Valley and the state’s water supply,” tweeted State Water Contractors General Manager Jennifer Pierre in response to the letter.