The first phase of much-needed repairs of the Friant-Kern Canal is set to begin late this fall.

It was reported at Tuesday's Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting construction on the first phase of the project is set to begin in November.

As part the process to move the project along the board unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding for the project to move forward. The MOU deals with such issues as working with the Friant Water Authority, who oversees the Friant-Kern Canal, on how costs absorbed by the county as part of the project will be covered.

Supervisor Larry Micari, whose district includes a large area served by the canal, put it simply when addressing the need for the repairs needing to begin as soon as possible: “We need the water and we need it now.”

Repairs to the 33-mile stretch of the canal to be repaired as part of the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project will restore its lost conveyance capability, its ability to deliver water, which is estimated at 60 percent.

Due to issues such as how water is distributed in the state, growers have had to pump more and more water out of the ground. This has caused subsidence, sinking of the canal, that has led to the reduction in its ability to deliver water.

The project will extend from south of Avenue 208 between Lindsay and Strathmore to the Lake Woollomes Check in North Tulare County.

In phase I scheduled to begin in November, the canal will be enlarged from Avenue 208 to just downstream of the Avenue 152 Tule River siphon, ½ mile north of Avenue 152. The first phase will cover about 7.4 miles and will increase the capacity of the canal to deliver a maximum design flow of 4,500 cubic feet per second. Phase I is expected to be completed in September 2024.

Overall the canal's capacity will be restored from 1,600 cfs to 4,000 cfs.

The federal government is providing $206 million for the project, which will cost $500 million. Phase I alone will cost $250 million.

FWA has approved a funding plan for the project which includes the $206 million from the federal government, $43 million from the San Joaquin River Restoration Project and $50 million from Friant-Kern contractors.

At least another $125 million will come from the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency in a settlement reached between FWA and ETGSA to account for the damage to the canal done by the overpumping of groundwater.

FWA has also agreed to a repayment contract with the federal government in which it will reimburse whatever funds it owes to the federal government as part of the project. Today is the last day to comment on the repayment contract and comments can be emailed to bhidleburg@usbr.gov.

The county board also approved an abandoment of a road near Richgrove that will eventually be needed to make room for the canal repairs. Avenue 32 between Road 184 and Road 192 will be abandoned. The two property owners adjacent to the road have provided letters in support of the abandonment.

Recommended for you