Optimism Still Alive for Temperance Flat Dam

Hope on the Horizon, but Questions Still Unanswered for California Water Systems

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

Funding awarded for the new Temperance Flat Dam may have fallen short, but hopes for construction are still very much alive. Jason Phillips, Director of Friant Water Authority and alumni of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, has insight as to why those involved with the project are still optimistic.

According to Phillips, the Temperance Flat project is being moved to a joint power authority (JPA), an action that was previously expected.

“Part of the process is to take the application that the water infrastructure authority submitted and move it to the implementing agency. So this is a really positive step moving forward for implementing the project,” Phillips explained.

He further added, “This is not the result of any kind of conflict. This is exactly what has been envisioned.”

Although progress is being made towards the Temperance Flat JPA, the question as to how existing water structures will be repaired still stands. After Californians failed to pass Prop 3, there has been much anticipation around issues like water supply and infrastructure restoration.

“We’re going to be working with this administration on whether another water bond might make sense or whether there are other mechanisms to help finance the infrastructure to keep farming viable in the valley,” Phillips said.

JPA Could Save Temperance Flat Dam

Joint Power of Authority Could Save Temperance Flat Dam

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

A Joint Power of Authority (JPA) is being formed to help preserve money authorized for construction of the Temperance Flat Dam with the passage of California Proposition 1, the Water Bond in 2014. Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, has been engaged in getting the project off the ground.

“It is unfortunate what has happened to the Friant Water Authority leadership and the lack of suitable talent there to run with it. The situation has adversely impacted getting a Temperance Flat water storage program in front of the California Water Commission, whose nine governor-appointed members are responsible for advising the director of California Department of Water Resources, approving rules and regulations, and monitoring and reporting on the construction and operation of the State Water Project. The Water Commission, which elicits preferred priorities from the agricultural industry, will award bond money in early 2017.

The Water Bond approved by voters last fall designates $2.7 billion for water storage. While this amount will help subsidize the construction of the dam, Nelsen noted there needs to be better organization in its planning, “because when we negotiated money for storage planning, we were set on two locations, Temperance Flat, behind Friant dam and east of Fresno, and Sites Reservoir, north of Sacramento. Of course, all along, we have known that farmers were investing a lot of money into it as well, but you have to have a plan,” Nelsen said.

Nelsen explained the JPA consists of city and county leaders as well as farm industry leaders from Merced to Bakersfield, including those from Fresno, Madera, Kings, Kern and Tulare Counties, and will require everyone’s cooperation to get the job done. “The inability to sustain some leadership at the Friant system right now has stalled our ability to make something happen in that regard.

“If we can use the talent within our counties right now to generate some of the proposals until we have the ability to get additional water experts online, I would give those who are working on the JPA all the credit in the world,” Nelsen said.