Local senators introduce bill to collect water, warns infrastructure is decades behind

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Republican state Senators are introducing a bill that they say is critical to help with collecting for the Central Valley and repairing the region's degrading canals.

Senate Bill 890 will ensure that water is stored during wet years, advancing efforts that were passed in 2014.

"This has a direct impact on our community, whether you live in Fresno or throughout the extended Valley territory. We need to make certain that we capture the water that is available," said State Senator Andreas Borgeas.

Senate Bill 890, led by State Senators Jim Nielson and Andreas Borgeas, will ensure that millions of acre-feet of water are stored locally, with $2.6 billion in funding to complete the Sites Reservoir in Colusa County and over $685 million to repair various canals throughout the region.

"If you look at the Friant current canal for example, and it's operating at between 50 and 55 percent capacity," explained Borgeas.

"For decades, we have ignored investment in central critical infrastructure, but COVID-19 put a spotlight on what we need to do as a country," added Borgeas.

SB 890 would be advancing the efforts of 2014's Proposition 1, when voters approved funding to build large, aboveground water storage.

After years of delays, both senators and farm bureau representatives say water infrastructure should be a top priority.

"On a year like this year, it looks like we are shaping up to be a third year drought.Iit was very hopeful that December was going to turn it around and we were hopefully going to come out of the pretty severe drought we've been in, but right now, it's just showing the need and the importance of having additional infrastructure," explained Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

"You can't just go to Save Mart and anticipate that the produce will always be there without making the public investment in essential infrastructure," explained Borgeas.

The lawmakers say they are working across the aisle hoping to make this a bi-partisan effort, saying if SB 890 passes it would be a win for everyone, including farmers and the food production industry.
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