Bureau of Reclamation Seeks Input for Its Plan to Restore Sinking Friant-Kern Canal

By on December 5, 2019

Built between 1949 and 1951, the Friant-Kern Canal is the state’s 152-mile Central Valley Project (CVP) aqueduct managed by the United States Bureau of Reclamation that brings water to the fertile farm fields in the Central Valley. Now, however, the 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 –- the sinking of the earth from groundwater extraction.

“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 (National Environmental Policy Act) process on this project,” said U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-23rd District-Bakersfield).

The reduced capability of the FKC has resulted in up to 300,000 acre-feet of reduced water deliveries in certain water years with effects most dramatic in the mid-FKC area (milepost 88 to milepost 121). 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).

“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.”

Located in California’s eastern San Joaquin Valley, FKC delivers water to over one-million acres of highly productive farmland and to over 250,000 Central Valley residents. The Friant Water Authority, a 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.

“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 Rep. McCarthy.

A copy of the NOI (Notice Of Intent) and the EA/IS (Environmental Assessment/Initial Study) 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 Emerson Through Jan. 3, 2020. To learn more about the NOI, EA/IS or any aspect of the Friant-Kern Canal Subsidence and Capacity Correction Project contact: Adam Nickels at 916-978-4415 or via e-mail at anickels@usbr.gov.