Temperance Flat Dam Offers Many Important Benefits

Temperance Flat Dam Feasibility Studies Underway

By Laurie Greene, Editor

The San Joaquin Valley Weather Infrastructure Authority (SJVWIA), a Joint Power of Authority composed of many San Joaquin Valley cities, counties and water agencies, is charged with the goals of ensuring completion of the Temperance Flat Dam feasibility studies and preparing the necessary bond funding application to get the structure built.

Stephen Worthley, president of the SJVWIA and member of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors said, “The big step for us is going to be the preparation of the application, which has to go to the Water Commission in a little less than one year’s time. So the important focus is to bring together a plan, present it in a way that will make sense to the Commission so they see this project as we envision it—a transformative project for the irrigation waters and the communities of the Central Valley.”

Worthley said when Temperance Flat is built it will be a monumental event. “It would be the first water infrastructure to be built in California in 50 years. It is unique because it will triple the storage capacity of Millerton Lake behind Friant Dam and it will have the unique ability to send water both north and south if needed.”

“This is why the feasibility study done by the Bureau of Reclamation was so important. They came back with the finding of feasibility and that’s what has to happen,” noted Worthley.
“In order to get the funding from Proposition 1, we’re going to have to demonstrate that this project is feasible and it is; and Friant Dam that will be in front of the Temperance Flat dam is just uniquely situated to provide water going north, either in a channel of the San Joaquin River, which may be able to be recaptured and returned south, or along the existing canal, which runs from the Madera Canal, which runs north.

Currently, most water flowing through Friant Dam moves southward through the Friant-Kern Canal.

“And with the extra water that will be provided by Temperance Flat dam is will enable us to major projects throughout the San Joaquin Valley, which is really critical,” said Worthley. “At the end of the day, I think the recharge is going to be as important, if not more so, than the storage and when you look at the feasibility study that was done by the Bureau of Reclamation, that was just purely on storage. They weren’t even considering recharge, so recharge is a whole new addition to that.”

“There are many opportunities of recharge that will be necessary to maintain agricultural pursuit in the San Joaquin Valley because with the Sustainable Groundwater Act, otherwise, without new water, you’re going to see many areas that rely entirely on pumping, are going to have to curtail their operations, either by fallowing the land or farming in a different fashion where they get by with less water,” said Worthley.

“With the drought and severe environmental restrictions, our valley surface water has been critically restricted. That happens two ways. One, of course, is that most of these, well, really all of our communities have their origin in and their continued existence in agriculture so agriculture production is critical to these communities even existing and continuing to exist, but beyond that is the direct need. That’s an indirect benefit, but the direct benefit is that these communities that rely upon Friant water for their potable water supplies, this is going to be a reliable water supply because right now they don’t have reliability,” said Worthley.

Report Highlights Urgent Need to Address California’s Groundwater Management

Management of California’s groundwater basins is fragmented, and many groundwater management plans are outdated and lacking important details, leaving significant room for improvement, according to a report released today by the California Water Foundation (CWF).

The report, An Evaluation of California Groundwater Management Planning, assesses the current condition of groundwater management planning in the state and makes recommendations to support sustainable management.

Lester Snow, Executive Director, California Water Foundation
Lester Snow, Executive Director, California Water Foundation

“California’s limited approach to groundwater management has been a concern for a long time, but the drought has drawn renewed attention to this increasing problem,” said Lester Snow, executive director of CWF. “Developing effective plans for how we manage this valuable resource is a crucial step to ensure that California’s farms, cities, and environment have reliable water supplies today and in the future.”

Groundwater is a critical part of California’s water supply, used to meet approximately 40 percent of the state’s water demands in an average year and up to 60 percent or more during droughts. In some regions, groundwater provides 100 percent of the local water supply. Yet, California is the only state without comprehensive statewide groundwater management programs.

The report released today reviewed 120 groundwater management plans adopted by local water agencies to manage their groundwater basins and concludes that current state groundwater management laws are inadequate. While many districts are effectively managing their groundwater resources, the report found significant limitations to the overall quality of groundwater plans in all parts of the state. Many plans lack basic basin management objectives or an implementation strategy for ensuring that objectives will be met. Most of the plans did not include or describe stakeholder outreach and participation. Additionally, 28 percent of the plans examined were written in 2002 or earlier and have not been updated.

The report makes the following recommendations to advance the development and implementation of groundwater management plans:

  • Establish a statewide goal that groundwater plans must describe how they will achieve sustainability of each groundwater basin.
  • Organize and empower local groundwater agencies to manage groundwater sub-basins.
  • Require the development and enforcement of groundwater management plans by local groundwater agencies.
  • Provide local agencies with technical guidance and financial support from the state of California.
  • Empower the state of California to oversee program implementation.

The state’s growing groundwater overdraft problems have resulted in a number of adverse consequences, including saltwater intrusion, increased energy costs due to pumping from greater depths, environmental degradation, and land subsidence that results in costly damage to infrastructure.

In May, CWF released a report of findings and recommendations to achieve sustainable groundwater management in California. Learn more at: http://www.californiawaterfoundation.org.

An Evaluation of California Groundwater Management Planning was prepared for CWF by RMC Water and Environment. The California Water Foundation’s (CWF) vision is to sustainably meet the water needs of California’s farms, cities, and environment today and into the future. CWF supports innovative projects and policies and brings together experts, stakeholders, and the public to achieve 21st century solutions.

Photo Credit: CDFA