Today, the California Department of Water Resources initiated a $100 million funding program to restore capacity to portions of the California Aqueduct, San Luis Canal, Delta-Mendota Canal, and Friant-Kern Canal lost to land subsidence occurring during the last several decades.
“Fixing these canals is an important foundational piece to ensure a reliable and climate resilient water supply for California,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “It enables us to move water during very wet conditions, which will be essential to adapting to more extreme weather. Restoring capacity in our existing infrastructure provides a critical link in diversifying water supplies by supporting groundwater replenishment throughout the Central Valley and water recycling projects in Southern California. It’s a prudent investment in our water future.”
In its first year, the program will provide up to $37 million to the State Water Project’s California Aqueduct and San Luis Canal (jointly operated by DWR and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation), $39.2 million to Friant Water Authority for the Friant-Kern Canal, and $23.8 million to San Luis Delta-Mendota Authority for the Delta-Mendota Canal. Recipients will use program funds to pay for planning, permitting, design, and construction of near-term subsidence rehabilitation projects. Agencies with funded projects will need to investigate the risk of subsidence and how to prevent continued subsidence. DWR will work with fund recipients to ensure all program requirements are met and funding agreements are executed to support these projects.
The four canals collectively deliver water to more than 29 million people, 2.9 million acres of farmland, and 130,000 acres of wetlands. The completed projects will restore up to 50 percent of the capacity of the canals over the next 10 years.
The 2021-22 State Budget Act appropriated $100 million for this program and authorized an additional $100 million for next fiscal year. This state-funded program is part of a cooperative approach to fixing California’s water conveyance infrastructure being pursued by local, state, and federal agencies, who will financially support the projects.
The program advances implementation of Governor Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio, which includes more than 100 actions aimed at improving water quality and supplies for California’s people, economy and farms and the environment. The funding program aligns with the California Water Commission’s June 2021 white paper on a state role in financing conveyance to meet climate change needs, which finds that the state should prioritize addressing damage to backbone conveyance infrastructure, including the State Water Project and Central Valley Project.