Sen. Nielsen’s Water Bill Killed: ‘It’s Absurd and Irresponsible’

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

As California’s precious water continues to be flushed out to sea, Democrats today killed Senate Bill 890, a measure Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Red Bluff) authored to secure funding to build and repair critical water infrastructure.

“Another historic drought, billions in extra funding and legislative Democrats turn their backs on investing in critical water projects that affect the lives of all Californians? It’s absurd and irresponsible,” said Nielsen.

SB 890, jointly authored with Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno), would have advanced the goals of Proposition 1 (2014) by making significant investments in California’s aboveground water storage and conveyance infrastructure. Specifically, SB 890 would have established the Water Storage and Conveyance Fund to provide:

  • $2.6 billion to complete the funding of Sites Reservoir in Colusa County; and
  • $685 million to repair the Friant-Kern/Delta-Mendota Canals and the San Luis Field/San Joaquin Divisions of the California Aqueduct.

Completion of Sites Reservoir would ensure an additional 1.5 million acre-feet of water is stored during wet years and made available to cities, farms and the environment during times of drought.

California’s Central Valley canals are in severe need of repair. Canal diversion and conveyance capacity have degraded due to substantial land subsidence caused by regional groundwater overdraft.

The Legislature had the opportunity fund these critical water infrastructure projects using taxpayer revenue that has already been collected. This is because under state law, infrastructure projects may be financed using revenue from the General Fund when it exceeds the State Appropriations Limit, or Gann limit.

The need for reliable and dependable above ground water storage and conveyance infrastructure is vital. The completion of Sites Reservoir and repairs on the Central Valley canals will go a long way toward preserving public health, protecting the environment and maintaining economic viability.

SB 890 was killed in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.