Dire Need for Temperance Flat

Temperance Flat Dam Could Minimize the Devastation of SGMA

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Mario Santoyo, Executive Director at San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, explained the dire need to build Temperance Flat Dam to California Ag Today recently, and the possible consequences if it is not built.

“With the new groundwater sustainability law coming into play, it is going to basically shut down a lot of farming,” he said.

If farmers cannot prove that they are replenishing the amount of groundwater as they are taking out, they are not going to be allowed to use the groundwater pumps.

“With the continuing extraction of our surface water by the environmental community and by governmental regulations, farming in the Central Valley is in for a world of hurts,” Santoyo said.

The Temperance Flat Dam would give the ability to manage the high run-off water that is otherwise lost into the ocean.

“We are losing millions and millions of acre-feet into the ocean that makes absolutely no sense to anyone,” Santoyo explained.

Temperance Flat would provide additional storage opportunities—up to an additional 1.2 million acre-feet—and will allow farmers to have carryover water from year to year. This will carry the farmers through the dry years, and it will give the allowance to stabilize the groundwater condition.

This dam needs funding from federal, state, and local water agencies.

“The JPA that we represent secured 171 million dollars, which is enough money to pay for the environmental paperwork and initiate the engineering,” Santoyo said.

The remainder of the funds has come in chunks from the federal government through the WIIN Act.

“The bulk of it will have to be the end users, the beneficiaries, i.e. the water agencies,” Santoyo said.

Right now, they are working on the process to evaluate the level of investment that they want to partake in.

“The way this project will work is multidimensional. But the key element will be storage management,” Santoyo said.

The investors would be buying chunks of storage cells in that reservoir to manage.

“In some cases, if you have a bad year in which you have water and others don’t, you’d be able to work something out with them,” Santoyo explained.

“Temperance Flat was a part of the focus when the WIN Act was being put together by Senator Feinstein and Congressman McCarthy,” Santoyo said.

The money allocated is enough to keep the project moving forward on an annual basis.

President Trump signed a memorandum a few months ago, however, Santoyo said, “Since I’ve been involved for a longer period of time, unfortunately, that memorandum that was signed in effect really didn’t do anything.”

Federal courts had already ruled previously that the biological opinions needed to be redone.

“All this memorandum did was just accelerate the study of it,” Santoyo explained.

A resolution on the Delta does not look like it will be here anytime soon.

“That’s why I think that if you have an opportunity to do something positive that doesn’t affect usage of the Delta water you should take it,” Santoyo said.

That’s what Temperance Flat does.

“Three billion dollars represents the full construction of the dam,” Santoyo said.This is the targeted budget for the dam. If the funds can be collected and in time, the dam will be fully operational by 2033.

Final Feasibility Study Begins for Temperance Flat Dam

Temperance Flat Dam Would Provide Groundwater Relief, Jobs

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Mario Santoyo, executive director, San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority (Joint Powers of Authority), described the major and historic event held last week at the Friant Dam regarding the Temperance Flat Dam and California’s future water supply.

“At the event,” Santoyo said, “a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation and the Joint Powers Authority, basically defines what the scope of work is going to be. In essence, it is full cooperation between their technical people and our Joint Powers Authority.  Our people are working on tailoring the application to the state to optimize how much money we get from them. Keep in mind, we’re talking big dollars here; we’re not talking a million or a hundred million.”

Joint Powers of Authority
At Friant Dam, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation and Joint Powers Authority for the Temperance Flat Dam.

Santoyo hopes to receive $1B in funding for the Temperance Flat Dam, although “it is going to cost somewhere around $2.8B. The maximum you could ask from the state is $1.4B. We don’t expect to be getting that because there is a lot of competition and there’s not enough dollars to go around. We’re hoping to shoot for somewhere around $1 billion,” he stated.

“In parallel with our efforts with the state,” Santoyo explained, “we’re working on the federal side with our senators and our congress members to obtain what they call a federal construction authorization—which allows the federal government to move ahead with this project. Then we work on appropriations,” he said.

Santoyo said the funding necessary to complete and complement dollars from the state will be procured in the same fashion as have projects in the past. “The Bureau of Reclamation typically funds the construction of a project and then recovers the cost through long-term water supply contracts or adjustments to existing water supply contracts,” he stated. “In this case, it would be adjustments to existing water supply contracts.”

Santoyo also noted preliminary feasibility studies are underway. Those already completed triggered the final feasibility report, “which is going through a final upper management review before being released to the public. I think we are all pretty confident it will come out in a very positive manner. I would expect that in the next sixty days,” he said.

The expected completion of the project varies. Santoyo estimated physical completion within five years,” but it has to go through design and environmental paperwork, plus legal challenges could cause setbacks as well. By the time you’re good to go, you’ll end up having this project built in probably under 15 years,” he said.

DAM CREATES NEEDED JOBS FOR VALLEY RESIDENTS

Nevertheless, Santoyo said the benefits of the Temperance Flat Dam project is to creates an economic boom and an increase in available jobs. “You’re going to be spending about $3B here for materials, labor, and everything that goes into it. It will be an economic boom; and once it’s built, we get more water reliability, creating a better situation for the farmers, and that creates employment. I wouldn’t look at waiting 15 years, it starts as soon as we start building,” he said.

“The best year for Temperance Flat is when we have high runoff periods, and we have those frequently,” Santoyo elaborated. “What I’ve determined is that there’s a 50% shot every time we have one that we will be dumping more than a million acre-feet into the ocean. That’s equivalent to a full-year of water supply for the east side of the valley. That’s a lot of water.”

DAM PROVIDES GROUNDWATER RELIEF

“The fact is, without this project, we will not be able to meet the ground water sustainability laws that exist because this water will be necessary to move underground to all these regions,” he said. “Right now, as it stands, San Joaquin River Settlement has taken away the Class II water that used by the Friant contractors to replenish the groundwater. Unless we have a means of replacing it, and that would be through Temperance Flat, we’re going to encounter very serious problems,” Santoyo noted.

“Take the typical example of a year in which we can save a million acre-feet in storage. We are not going to keep it there,” he said. “We are going to move it via the canal systems to the various groundwater recharging basins,” which capture and replenish underground water. “It’s not a matter of whether groundwater storage is better [or worse] than above-ground storage; they work in conjunction with each other to maximize storage.”

DAM SERVES A PURPOSE IN TIMES OF CRISIS

“There are a lot of conversations about the San Andreas Fault rumbling. If we had an earthquake, we could have a seismic event in the Delta,” Santoyo said. “What differentiates this project from all the other projects is that we could take Temperance Flat water and go north via the San Joaquin River to the Delta, or south via the Friant-Kern canal, across the valley canal to the California aqueduct then subsequently down to southern California,” he said.

“In a scenario of Delta failure, in which water was no longer moving to the millions of people in Southern California, that would be a crisis,” he stated, “they would be looking for help in any way, shape, and form. Temperance Flat could do that. That’s one of the public benefits being looked at by the California Water Commission, in a category called emergency services. That was written in there specifically because of Temperance’s capability.”

Phone Calls Needed Now

STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND MAKE AS MANY CALLS AS YOU CAN!

CALL all Senators to support the WESTERN WATER AND AMERICAN FOOD SECURITY ACT OF 2015

WE ARE DEDICATING THE REST OF THE DAY TO MAKE THESE CALLS.

OUR LIVES DEPEND ON THIS!

 

H.R.2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015 has passed the House and is on the way to the Senate.

MY JOB Depends on Ag urges each and every one of us to call all U.S. Senators and tell them we want a YES vote.

  • Here’s a template letter to email.
  • Call these Senators, starting with CA and moving onward.
  • Say you are calling regarding HR 2898 and want the Senator to vote YES!! They may ask for your zip code and say they will pass along your concern.

 

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) TODAY released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the Western Water and American Food Security Act:

“The House today passed a drought bill that included some useful short-term provisions as well as some provisions that would violate environmental law. While I cannot support the bill as passed, I remain hopeful we can come to an agreement that can advance through both chambers.

“House Republicans are right that we need to increase the flexibility of the state’s water delivery infrastructure. We need to facilitate water transfers and maximize water pumping without violating environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act or biological opinions, and we must do this using updated science and real-time monitoring. Provisions to accomplish this were in the bill the Senate unanimously passed last year, and I plan to include them again this year with added environmental protections.

“I also believe we must look closely at ways to support water recycling, storage, desalination and groundwater replenishment projects. There are already 15 ocean desalination projects and 65 water recycling projects being considered throughout California. These types of projects—as well as building or increasing reservoir capacity—must be a part of any long-term solution.

“To get a bill through the Senate and the House we’ll need to include provisions that benefit the entire West and help support the development of alternative water infrastructure. If the climate continues to warm, as I believe it will, these alternatives will be key.”