Hurtado Releases Statement on Governor's Drought Declaration and His Announcement of Partial Funding for Her SB 559--The State Water Resiliency Act

May 10, 2021

For Immediate Release: May 10, 2021

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SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) released the following statement after Governor Newsom announced partial funding of her SB 559 – the State Water Resiliency Act – and the extension of drought emergency status to Fresno, Kern, Tulare and Kings Counties:


“Drought conditions in the Central Valley and across California continue to worsen, with a majority of the state in a ‘severe,’ ‘extreme’ or ‘exceptional’ drought status,” said Senator Hurtado. “The State Water Resiliency Act of 2021 will provide much needed funding for canal conveyance repairs throughout the Central Valley that will impact more than 31 million Californians. While Governor Newsom’s allocation of $200 million towards the funding of SB 559 is much needed, it does not fully address the total costs to repair the state water conveyance systems.  I commend the Governor for declaring a local emergency in Kings, Tulare, Kern and Fresno Counties. That declaration provides funding to mitigate some of the drought related impacts we know are on the horizon. To avoid a food crisis like that of 1974, California must do more.”

Senator Hurtado’s legislation, SB 559, will allocate $785 million to repairing vital water delivery systems that provide drinking water to communities throughout California and water to sustain the state’s leading agricultural economy. The funds would go to fixing the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta-Mendota Canal and major portions of the California Aqueduct, all of which have degraded and are losing water as a result of subsidence – the actual shrinking of land. Senator Hurtado authored similar legislation last year (also called SB 559), but it was vetoed by the Governor at the end of the last legislative session.  

It’s estimated that California has seen an estimated decrease of 500,000 gallons of water per acre feet this year—an amount equivalent to a city of 1 million people’s annual usage. The United States Senate held an Agricultural Committee earlier this year, where it announced that 15 crop plants provide 90% of global energy intake, with three crops—wheat, maize and rice as top producers. The Central Valley has had to fallow 100,000 acres of rice to provide water to Southern California. For every acre, farmers yield an estimated 8,000 pounds of rice. 

The Senator is also a co-author of the Water Innovation Act of 2021, which will create the Office of Water Innovation at the California Water Commission-furthering new technologies and other approaches within the water sector. The Senator has also introduced Senate Bill 464, which will expand the eligibility for state funded food benefits to undocumented immigrants, ensuring all residents can access food assistance. Senator Hurtado’s Senate Bill 108 which will declare it to be state policy that all people have access to sufficient, healthy food.


In 2019, Senator Hurtado’s Senate Bill 513 was passed, which allows the State Water Resources Control Board to provide grants to eligible applicants to provide relief to households in which a private water well has gone dry, or been destroyed by drought, wildfire, or other natural disaster. The Senator’s Senate Bill 974 (2019) allows various water infrastructure projects to be exempted from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.) These exemptions will help disadvantage community water systems that improve water quality, water supply or water reliability to seek necessary infrastructure to address their water supply needs and avoid the timely and costly burden of CEQA.



About Senator Melissa Hurtado


Senator Melissa Hurtado represents a new generation of Latina leaders as the youngest woman ever elected to the California State Senate and a product of immigrant parents. Senator Hurtado represents the 14th Senate District and focuses on rural community issues that often go unheard — access to clean air and water, food insecurity and poverty, inequities in environmental policies, agriculture and access to health care. In July 2020, she was appointed to the national Biden Latino Leadership Committee alongside former Labor Secretary and current Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis – the only two California Latinas on the Committee.


For more information, visit Senator Hurtado’s Website here or find her on Twitter at @Senator_Hurtado