The Friant-Kern Canal

published on December 4, 2019 - 2:59 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

The federal government announced Wednesday it will be getting involved in ongoing problems regarding the Friant-Kern Canal.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will begin researching the environmental impact of restoring the waterway’s continued sinking — otherwise called subsidence, according to a press release from the federal agency Tuesday.

The public input stage is the first step of what is being called The Friant-Kern Canal Subsidence and Capacity Correction Project.

According to the release, the effects of subsidence on 33 miles of the canal have resulted in a loss of over half of its original capacity. The sinking is largely due to groundwater extraction, the release stated.

Located in the eastern San Joaquin Valley, the canal delivers water to over 1 million acres of farmland and 250,000 residents. Delivery capacity for the canal has been reduced by up to 300,000 acre-feet of water in certain water years, the release stated.

Fixing the canal would result in 4,000 cubic-feet-per-second of water flowing through the artery, up from 1,900 cubic-feet-per-second.

“The San Joaquin Valley is the breadbasket of the world,” said California State Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno). “Without critical water storage and infrastructure to deliver water to our farms and cities, we cannot have a strong California economy. The Friant-Kern canal delivers water to thousands of people and more than 1 million acres of the most productive farmland in the entire world.”

Borgeas co-authored SB 559 with State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger). That bill, which would’ve allocated millions of dollars from state coffers for the sinking canal, was tabled for review during the 2020 legislative session.

“I also want to thank President Trump for listening to our needs in California and acting on them through his presidential memorandum that prioritized this and other water infrastructure projects in the West. Restoring full capacity of the Friant-Kern Canal along this stretch will significantly benefit residents along the eastside of the Central Valley and our agricultural community,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield).

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