Agriculture · Highlight

Feds release study into repairing sunken Friant-Kern Canal

With its capacity reduced by more than 300,000 acre-feet of water due to sunken ground, a fix for the Friant-Kern Canal may be on the horizon.

Tuesday, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released its initial study into correcting the subsidence-caused collapse of the canal.

The Friant-Kern spans 152 miles from Millerton Lake in Fresno County to the Kern River in Bakersfield.

Federal water managers concluded an initial study on repairing a 33-mile stretch in Tulare and Kern counties.

10 miles of the canal would be widened to allow for restored capacity, while the other 23 miles would be realigned to new segments.

As with all things related to water projects, funding is the X-Factor.

Hope for funding improvements for the Friant-Kern Canal was pinned on 2018’s Proposition 3.

As designed, the bond would have sent $750 million of the $8,9 billion fund to repair subsidence damage on the canal.

That hope was dashed when voters rejected the bond by less than 200,000 votes last November.

State legislators took a stab at funding repairs during the past legislative session.

Sens. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger) and Andreas Borgeas (R–Fresno) drafted up Senate Bill 559, which would have provided $400 million in repair funding.

The bill ultimately died in the Assembly ahead of the end of the legislative session.

On the Federal side, funding talk has been far quieter.

While Reclamation has provided a solid push forward with the initial study on repairs, no bill has been proposed by the Valley’s Federal legislators to fund repairs.

Despite that, Rep. TJ Cox (D–Fresno) announced Monday a bill that would expand the qualification for small rural communities to receive Federal grants for clean drinking water projects.

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.