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Friant Water Authority Special Meeting April 15, 2021

Bermad irrigationThe Friant Water Authority held a special board of directors meeting on Thursday, April 15, 2021. Chairman Cliff Loeffler called the meeting a bit after 9:00am. There was no public comment and attorney Don Davis said today’s topic is one of the most complicated issues Friant has had to deal with. He was referring to the repairs on the Friant Kern Canal and all that entails.

Deciding how much and who will pay has been an effort in making as many people happy as possible. Davis said if you give the US Bureau of Reclamation extra time with a document they will find things they want to change. One of the changes is the Bureau will calculate the reimbursable and non-reimbursable amounts at the end of each phase of the construction.

Aaron Fukuda, General Manager Tulare Irrigation District asked what that was all about and FWA Chief Executive Officer Jason Phillips explained the Bureau didn’t want to set amounts until there was some certainty about what the amounts will be, if I understood correctly.

Davis said another revision is the removal of the Zone Three funding plan. This plan would have allowed private investment in the repair project to supplement funds and would have resulted in increased capacity. This gravely concerned some folks that a form of title or a permanent share of canal capacity could be established by non-contractors.

A rewritten MOU was presented to the board. Loeffler asked the directors to comment. Edwin Camp represents Arvin Edison Water Storage District, one of the districts most impacted by the kink in the canal. He said he’s made all the comments he will make and let’s get the canal repaired. Next was Brock Buche representing the City of Fresno who said the city can’t find the nexus for this project and will reflect that in the vote. Fresno ID had no comment. FID had been reluctant earlier in the process to pay a share of the agreement but evidently found peace.Conterra

The vote was taken and the City of Fresno voted no and so did FID so maybe they didn’t find as much peace as I thought. Even Orange Cove ID, one of the more vocal district in expressing concern voted yes. Loren Booth of Hills Valley ID spoke up in support of the MOU. The resolution passed and the cost share agreement has been, well agreed to, officially.

Phillips said now that this milestone has been reached the Bureau will start the bidding process for repair construction. The meeting adjourned at 9:24am.

The following is a press release from Friant:

For Immediate Release:

April 15, 2021

Contact:

Johnny Amaral, 559-799-6192, jamaral@friantwater.org

Alex Biering, 916-628-0431, abiering@friantwater.org

Friant Water Authority is One Step Closer to Fixing the Friant-Kern Canal

Lindsay, CA – Today, the Friant Water Authority Board of Directors voted to finalize a cost-share agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) that details how the work to restore lost capacity in the Friant-Kern Canal will proceed and be funded.  Reaching this important milestone clears the path for Reclamation to solicit construction bids with the goal of having a contractor selected around Summer 2021.  Construction on Phase 1 of the project is expected to be completed in 2024. The Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project would restore capacity of up to 60 percent in certain areas where flow is severely constricted. The constriction is the result of land subsidence due to groundwater overdraft, largely from lands outside of the Central Valley Project Friant Division service area with no access to surface water supplies.

“The Friant Division began 70 years ago with a shared vision and investments in its collective future,” said Cliff Loeffler, Friant Water Authority Chairman. “Although challenging, it was important for Friant contractors to continue financing their portion of the Friant-Kern Canal repairs together, as a family, irrespective of being north or south of the pinch point. It’s our legacy and part of what makes the Friant Division special, unique, and solutions-oriented.”

Components of the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project finance plan include:

  • $206 million in funding as part of the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations package passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in December 2020;
  • A minimum of $125 million in funding provided by a landmark agreement with the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency; and
  • $50 million in local funding provided by Friant-Kern Canal contractors.

The Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project will restore the canal’s design capacity through 30 miles of its most conveyance-restricted section near Terra Bella. State and Federal environmental reviews for the project were completed in September 2020 and the project’s Record of Decision was signed on November 4, 2020.

The Friant Division was designed in the early 20th century to function as a large-scale conjunctive use effort to stabilize groundwater supplies while meeting community and farm water needs on the San Joaquin Valley’s eastside. One of the Friant-Kern Canal’s primary functions is to deliver surface water to be used in lieu of groundwater or to recharge groundwater aquifers. As a result, restoring the capacity of the Friant-Kern Canal is critical to the southern San Joaquin Valley’s success in complying with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, in additional to achieving water quality and water supply goals for small, rural, or disadvantaged communities on the eastside.

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights strives to provide its clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights’ clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2021 by WaterWrights.net/DAW

FRIANT WATER AUTHORITY

854 N. Harvard Ave., Lindsay, CA 93247, Office 559/562-6305 Email: information@friantwater.org www.friantwater.org

The Friant Water Authority is a Joint Powers Agreement with 17 districts to operate and maintain the Friant Division of the Central Valley Water Project. Water from the San Joaquin River is diverted at Friant Dam at Millerton Lake to the Madera/Chowchilla Canal to the north and the Friant/Kern Canal to the south. More than one million acres of mostly family farms and numerous communities get their surface supplies from the Friant Division.

Staff: CEO Jason Phillips, COO Doug DeFlitch, CFO Don Willard, Government Affairs & Communication Alexandra Biering, Water Resource Manager Ian Buck-Macleod, Superintendent Chris Hickernell, Chief of External Affairs Johnny Amaral, Director of Technology Christopher Hunter and Attorney Don Davis.

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