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East Valley Farmers and Cities May Get More Surface Water This Summer

Farmers and cities on the east side of the Valley may get more water than they originally thought.

Friant Water Authority, which operates the Friant-Kern Canal, said in a recent memo on its website it is confident its contractors will not only get the 15% allocation of surface water deliveries announced in February but that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will likely increase the amount to 20%, possibly as early as this week.

Court Rules Federal Government Didn’t Stiff Fresno, Other Water Users During Last Drought

The federal government did not breach its contract when it gave water users, including the city of Fresno, a zero water allocation in the extreme drought year of 2014, according to a ruling issued June 6 in Federal Claims Court.

It may not seem fair, Judge Armando Bonilla wrote in his ruling, and “To be clear, a zero allocation for the Friant contractors was harsh,” but the fact is the Friant division of the Central Valley Project is outranked by superior water rights held by the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors.

 

Valley Water Agencies Ask for More Water Now and in the Future

On pace to be the driest January-February on record, signaling a third straight year of drought, local water authorities are begging the state to release more water for farmers this summer or at least begin building capacity to withstand future droughts.

On Feb. 23, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced its initial 2022 water supply allocations for Central Valley Project contractors, including the water agencies which operate the Friant-Kern Canal to the east and Delta-Mendota Canal to the west. Allocations are based on an estimate of water available for delivery to CVP water users and reflect current reservoir storages, precipitation and snowpack in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada.

Water Authority and GSA To Settle On Sagging Friant-Kern Canal Resolution

The Friant Water Authority cleaned up some of the most important work in the last month of the year hashing out a legal settlement with farmers in southern Tulare County.

Represented by the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency farmers agreed to contribute at least $125 million to repair the significant subsidence-caused sag in the gravity-fed canal that has cut water deliveries by 60%.

Around Kings County: Big Water News for Central Valley

Water bills would help fix subsidence damage: A package of water bills passed Congress this week that could offer hundreds of millions to improve San Joaquin Valley water deliveries. Folded into the same bill that will be offering COVID relief was the government’s annual spending bill that included  funding approval for key local canals and dams. Significantly it includes $206 million to rebuild 33 miles of the Friant Kern Canal and monies for the repair of the westside’s California Aqueduct and Delta Mendota Canal — all facing reduced capacity due to subsidence- the sinking of land caused by vigorous water pumping nearby over the years.

Newsom Vetoes Friant-Kern Canal Fix Bill

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have provided funding to fix the ever-sinking Friant-Kern Canal.  State Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) introduced the bill back in 2018 and had strong bipartisan support, especially among her fellow Valley lawmakers.  SB 559 would have required the Department of Water Resources to report to the legislature by March 31, 2021, on federal funding approved by the federal government for the Friant Water Authority or any other government agency to restore the capacity of the Friant-Kern Canal.

The Friant-Kern Canal Is Sinking. Thirty-Mile Parallel Canal Proposed

The Friant-Kern Canal, which delivers water to farms and communities on the east side of the Valley, is literally sinking in some areas due to groundwater pumping. And with one week to go before the California legislature wraps up its 2019 session, many hope the state will help fund the canal’s repair. FM89’s News Director Alice Daniel recently sat down with Johnny Amaral, the chief of external affairs for the Friant Water Authority to learn about one possible solution.