Reclamation seeks input for Friant-Kern Canal fix

Proposed project would repair critical water delivery system for farms and cities

Media Contact: Jeff Hawk, 916-978-5101, jhawk@usbr.gov

For Release: December 03, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public input about its plan to restore a subsidence-impacted, 33-mile stretch of the Friant-Kern Canal (FKC) that has lost over half of its original designed and built capacity to subsidence – a sinking of the earth from groundwater extraction.

The canal, located in California’s eastern San Joaquin Valley, delivers water to over 1 million acres of highly productive farmland and over 250,000 residents. The reduced channel capacity has resulted in up to 300,000 acre-feet of reduced water deliveries in certain water years with effects most dramatic in the FKC middle reach (milepost 88 to milepost 121).

“From citrus to dairy and everything in between, the communities served by the Friant-Kern Canal are some of the most agriculturally-productive in the nation. However, after years of drought, subsidence along the canal has occurred, restricting its capacity to deliver water in Tulare and Kern Counties. Repairing the Friant-Kern Canal is a top priority of mine, and I want to commend Secretary Bernhardt, Commissioner Burman, and Director Conant for formally starting the NEPA process on this project,” said U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy.

“I also want to thank President Trump for listening to our needs in California and acting on them through his presidential memorandum that prioritized this and other water infrastructure projects in the West. Restoring full capacity of the Friant-Kern Canal along this stretch will significantly benefit residents along the eastside of the Central Valley and our agricultural community,” said McCarthy.

The Friant-Kern Canal Subsidence and Capacity Correction Project (Project) would restore capacity from the current estimated 1,900 cubic-feet-per-second to the original 4,000 cubic-feet-per-second in the most critical area near the Dear Creek Check Structure (milepost 103). The Friant Water Authority, the non-federal operating entity for the canal, is supporting the design and feasibility assessment of the proposed project and is working with Reclamation to meet state and federal environmental law requirements.

“Delivering water reliably and efficiently is key to supporting California’s environment and robust economy,” said Reclamation’s California Great Basin Regional Director Ernest Conant. “This project meets our commitment to repair infrastructure so we can optimize water deliveries, better use flood waters and protect the environment.”

A Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact statement, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, for the “Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project,” was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 3, 2019. Reclamation, the lead federal agency, is seeking comments for the next 30 days. A public scoping meeting is planned for Dec. 18, 2019 to solicit input and will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at U.S. Forest Service office, 1839 S. Newcomb St. Porterville, CA. As part of the scoping process, Reclamation will release an Environmental Assessment/Initial Study (EA/IS).

A copy of the NOI and the EA/IS may be found online at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_project_details.php?Project_ID=41341. Contact Rain Emerson at 559-262-0335 or via e-mail at remerson@usbr.gov for a CD document copy. Scoping comments may be submitted to Ms. Emerson within the next 30 days.

Learn more about the NOI, EA/IS or any aspect of the Friant-Kern Canal Subsidence and Capacity Correction Project by contacting Adam Nickels at 916-978-4415 or via e-mail at anickels@usbr.gov

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.