STATEMENT: Assembly Amendments Force Senator to Pull Vote on Critical Infrastructure Repair, Sponsors Pledge to Continue Work with Senator Hurtado

California’s Water Conveyance Systems Remain in Dire Need of Repair to Secure the State’s Limited Water Resources and Deliver on the Promise of Safe and Reliable Water for All

Sacramento, CA – Today, Senator Melissa Hurtado’s SB 559 – The State Water Resiliency Act of 2021 – was moved to the Assembly Inactive File and will not proceed this year to a full vote of the Assembly. While the bill’s sponsors are disappointed that SB 559 will not move forward this session, they support Senator Hurtado’s decision to make SB 559 a two-year bill and remain committed to working with Senator Hurtado to re-engage on the bill during the next legislative year.

SB 559 represents a golden opportunity to support climate change resilience by facilitating the movement of significant amounts of water when it’s wet to storage and for use during droughts. California’s water conveyance systems identified in SB 559 provide drinking water to over 31 million people in Southern California, the Bay Area and Central Valley, including disadvantaged communities, as well as irrigation water to over 3 million acres of farmland.

SB 559 offers a holistic, statewide approach to restore the conveyance capacity of California’s major critical water delivery infrastructure by creating a fund to provide up to $785 million to repair canals, roads and bridges that have been damaged by decades of subsidence. The fund would advance repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal, Delta-Mendota Canal, San Luis Canal and California Aqueduct – California’s main state and regional water conveyance infrastructure. The state fund SB 559 would create represents a third of the total cost for repairs as part of a three-way state/federal/local cost sharing arrangement. In fact, millions of federal dollars have already been secured, including $250 million for the Friant-Kern Canal, $3 million for the Delta-Mendota Canal, and the local cost share from the State Water Project is guaranteed. While the one-time $100 million appropriation approved as part of the 2021-22 State Budget, along with a promise of another $100 million next year, represents the Governor’s commitment to getting these repairs done for California, additional state funding is necessary for the state to maintain parity with its local agency and federal partners.

“We are disappointed that SB 559 did not proceed to a full vote this year, however we support Senator Hurtado’s decision in light of the most recent amendments she was forced to accept. Ignoring California’s water infrastructure needs by delaying action on repairs has devastating effects on our economy, quality of life, climate resiliency, food security, ecosystem health and public safety. Just imagine if we had completed these repairs prior to this current drought, California would be in a much better place than we are now. Securing California’s water future by repairing and updating the infrastructure that 31 million people and 3 million acres of farmland rely on isn’t a choice, we must get it done. We look forward to continuing our work with Senator Hurtado next year on a bill that will secure much-needed state funding for canal repairs.”

Jennifer Pierre, General Manager of the State Water Contractors
Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority
Jason Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of Friant Water Authority