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Reclamation and partners celebrate completion of critical water supply infrastructure for San Joaquin Valley

Project will restore critical water supply infrastructure for San Joaquin Valley

Media Contact: Mary Lee Knecht, Bureau of Reclamation 916-717-9257 mgarrisonknecht@usbr.gov
Johnny Amaral, Friant Water Authority 559-799-6192 jamaral@friantwater.org
For Release: Jun 21, 2024
Ribbon cutting at Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project Phase 1 Ribbon cutting at Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project Phase 1

FRESNO, Calif. –  The Bureau of Reclamation, Friant Water Authority, and California Department of Water Resources today cut the ribbon to celebrate completion of Phase 1 of the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project. The project will restore capacity to 33 miles of the existing Friant-Kern Canal damaged from subsidence—a sinking of the earth from groundwater removal.

The 152-mile Friant-Kern Canal plays a critical role in delivering water to 1 million acres of highly productive farmland and more than 250,000 people from Fresno to Bakersfield in Central California. Since the canal’s construction in 1951, more than 50% of its original conveyance capacity in the middle reach has been lost due to land subsidence. Phase 1 of the project focused on the construction of 10 miles of new concrete-lined canal to replace one of the worst pinch points of the canal’s subsiding middle reach.

“Today’s ribbon cutting celebration is a shining example of what can happen when federal, state, and local agencies partner together in pursuit of future water security,” said Reclamation Regional Director Karl Stock. “This celebration marks an important milestone for one of Reclamation’s most critical priorities: to provide water supply reliability to one of the most productive agriculture regions in the nation.”

“There are few bigger priorities in water management than readying ourselves to move and store water when it’s wet. It takes partnerships like this between federal, state, and local governments to make sure our infrastructure is up to the task,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “That’s why DWR is so excited to celebrate today’s milestone on the federal Friant-Kern Canal. We look forward to similar partnerships to ensure that the California Aqueduct and Delta Mendota Canal are rehabilitated to meet the challenges of weather whiplash that lie ahead.”

“Nelson Mandela once said, ‘it always seems impossible until it’s done,’ and there’s no better way to describe the efforts of all the partners involved in the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Project,” said Friant Water Authority Chief Executive Officer Jason Phillips. “The completion of Phase 1 will provide incalculable benefits for the farms, communities, and people of the Friant Division for decades. The Friant Water Authority looks forward to working with our project partners to protect the enormous investment made and to ensure that those benefits can be realized long after we are all gone.”

The project was funded by Reclamation, Friant Water Authority, and DWR. Phase 2 of the project will address correcting subsidence-related deficiencies in the portion of the Middle Reach section not addressed in Phase 1. Phase 2 of the project has been awarded more than $22 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law through President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda for planning and design.

The canal, part of the Central Valley Project’s Friant Division, is owned by the federal government; Friant Water Authority operates and maintains it under contract with Reclamation. The canal’s diminished capacity has resulted in up to 300,000 acre-feet of reduced water deliveries in certain water years with effects most prominent in the middle reach of the canal (milepost 88 to milepost 121). The Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project will restore conveyance capacity from the current estimated 1,600 cubic-feet-per-second to the original 4,000 cubic-feet-per-second in the most critical area near the Deer Creek check structure (milepost 103). Reclamation signed the Record of Decision for the project in November 2020.

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