$171 Million is Far Less than $1 Billion Sought
News Release Edited by Patrick Cavanaugh
The California Water Commission has granted state water bond funding of $171 million to the central San Joaquin Valley’s proposed Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir project. The action came during a Water Commission hearing recently in Sacramento.
The $171 million award under the state’s Water Storage Investment Program is well short of the $1 billion in funding that had been sought when the application process was launched by the project’s lead agency, the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority (SJVWIA), but is still very welcomed.
“It is far less than what we originally asked for,” said Mario Santoyo, SJVWIA Executive Director, “but these state funds remain an important part of Temperance Flat’s financing that we have long looked toward along with federal and local investor funding. We have continued to move steadily forward working with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Interior Department and the investor’s group that has taken shape.”
Project proponents were disappointed by a May 4 Water Commission action that turned down Temperance Flat public benefits scoring the project needed to achieve all the state project funding the SJVWIA had sought. They were also surprised by another Water Commission decision to not make available early funding to the SJVWIA for predevelopment environmental and permitting work.
Santoyo said reconsideration of that action may be sought.
“We’re still moving forward and are not giving up,” said Steve Worthley, SJVWIA president and Tulare County Board of Supervisors chairman. “We’re pushing ahead because this project would be a major valley tool in complying with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act along with improving water supply availability and reliability and flood control. Temperance Flat would improve water supplies for disadvantaged communities and urban areas, and create tremendous water management flexibility, not to mention significant benefits for the environment.”
A number of interested water agencies from many parts of the valley are exploring project financing options. The Bureau of Reclamation is pursuing completion of an updated Temperance Flat feasibility study.
Temperance Flat would be located on the San Joaquin Valley above Millerton Lake, northeast of Fresno. The new reservoir would contain 1.3 million acre-feet of water storage space, 2½ times the capacity of Millerton Lake behind Friant Dam.
Temperance Flat is viewed as a vitally-needed means of capturing and storing high flows of water generated in big water supply years. Much of that water is currently being lost to flood releases from Friant Dam due to Millerton Lake’s small storage capacity.