San Joaquin Valley water agencies pledge cooperation in developing Temperance Flat Reservoir

By on April 2, 2017
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Representatives of the Friant Water Authority, San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority, San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority have signed a joint letter to the California Water Commission (CWC) pledging their cooperation in developing the Temperance Flat Reservoir project. The joint letter was signed during a news conference hosted by Fresno May Lee Brand at Fresno City Hall.

California voters authorized $7.545 billion in general obligation bonds in 2014 with the passage of Proposition 1 including $2.7 billion for surface water storage development. The CWC is administering the program to award grant funds to eligible projects through a competitive process.

Within the joint letter to CWC Acting Executive Officer Taryn Ravazzini, the agencies pledged to work with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and contribute equally on staff, funding, support, and other resources to support the Temperance Flat project.

“The (Temperance Flat) project could provide a secure place to store supplies for dry years, improve the capture of high flows for groundwater infiltration in wet years, and provide additional controllable supply that could improve water supply reliability or support ecosystems,” said Jason Phillips, chief executive officer of the Friant Water Authority, in a written statement. “Today’s letter provides an important step towards crystalizing the benefits of Temperance Flat and understanding how investors could share in them.”

Temperance Flat Reservoir – if built – would have 2.5 times the capacity of the existing Millerton Lake. The proposed reservoir in the upper San Joaquin River watershed is considered as a way to improve operational flexibility, water supply and reliability for the San Joaquin Valley’s water users. The new reservoir would hold 1.3 million acre-feet of water.

“If the supply of food and fiber that is produced in the Central Valley and enjoyed by millions around the world is to continue, then a dependable water supply must be developed. California’s forefathers provided a foundation in water that has benefited us through the years and construction of Temperance Flat Reservoir enables us to build on that valuable history and provide an essential portion of the needed water supply that will benefit cities, disadvantaged communities, farms, groundwater recharge and responsible environmental benefits,” said Steve Chedester, executive director of the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority.

“The entire state of California needs its water infrastructure updated, and that includes building water storage projects, like Temperance Flat Dam,” said Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) in expressing his support for the project. “The future viability of the San Joaquin Valley is dependent upon a reliable water supply,” said Costa. “Efforts to store water must be improved, both below and above ground, during wet years so water is available during the dry years.”

Currently, the four water agencies are collaborating on technical analyses and an operations plan that will build upon previous Temperance Flat studies. These efforts will also provide clarity to how partners in the Temperance Flat project — including the State of California — could benefit from new investments in storage on the San Joaquin River.