Lewis Griswold

February 8, 2014

Lewis Griswold: Water districts propose reservoir in Tulare County

In a year of drought news, a reservoir near McKay's Point in Tulare County is being proposed by several irrigation districts.

In a year of drought news, a reservoir near McKay's Point in Tulare County is being proposed by several irrigation districts.

It would hold only 4,000 acre-feet -- Millerton Lake can hold 520,000 acre-feet -- but "every little bit helps," said engineer Dick Moss of Provost and Pritchard, the company designing the reservoir.

McKay's Point is below Lake Kaweah east of Visalia, and is where the St. John's and lower Kaweah rivers split. The proposed reservoir would be north of McKay's Point.

Tulare Irrigation District, Consolidated People's Ditch Co. and Visalia & Kaweah Water Co. -- owners of the property since the 1920s -- are proposing the project.

In wet years, water from the Kaweah River would go into the reservoir and be pumped out later into the Kaweah or St. John's for farmland irrigation.

In summer, water for the reservoir would be drawn from increased river flows related to electricity production at the Lake Kaweah power plant, Moss said.

And the reservoir would offer extra flood protection for downstream Visalia by accepting water when Dry Creek, which has no dam, dumps heavy flows into the Kaweah River, Moss said.

Cemex gravel mining company, a neighbor, would dig the reservoir and sell the "aggregate" rock produced. Royalties from sales would finance the $10 million project.

Construction would occur in stages, Moss said. Tulare County must approve the project, and an environmental impact report is required. Scoping sessions are being held next week:

  • Feb. 18, 5:30 p.m., Woodlake Council Chambers
  • Feb. 19, 1:30 p.m., Visalia Convention Center
  • Feb. 19, 5:30 p.m., Tulare Irrigation District Office, 6826 Avenue 240, Tulare
The project was announced last week.

911 CENTER: The Visalia City Council voted 4-1 last week to build the planned Visalia Emergency Communications Center -- the 911 call center -- on city property east of Burke Street.

The decision lets the city get started on designing the building.

The call center is the first of several city buildings being proposed for the new Civic Center on the east downtown property.

The no vote was cast by Council Member Greg Collins, who said the call center is better suited on city property across the street.

Collins, a self-employed city planner, said the city needs a better "vision" for how the Civic Center buildings and accompanying green space will be laid out, and suggested he'll bring a proposal to the table.

But it may be too late to convince fellow council members to make major changes.

Last week, a majority said they liked a consultant's proposed footprint for a city hall, communication center, public safety administration building and police evidence storage building.

OAK AVENUE: A sidepiece to the Civic Center project is the planned extension of Oak Avenue.

The city wants to extend Oak Avenue one block east to Burke Street. Because railroad tracks run down the middle of Oak, San Joaquin Valley Railroad reportedly urged that a fence be built on both sides of the tracks, presumably to keep people away from them.

But a fence would create a barrier that would mess up the overall design of the Civic Center area, Collins said.

Mayor Steve Nelsen said later that the fence would have a break in it to allow pedestrians to cross the tracks, which might solve the issue.

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About Lewis Griswold

Lew Griswold

@fb_lewgriswold

A 29-year resident of Visalia, Lewis Griswold is thoroughly in touch with his community. His South Valley columns shed light on the quirky and quaint, the light-hearted and the heart-rending. Contact him with your ideas. Phone: (559) 441-6104. Twitter: @fb_lewgriswold. Email: lgriswold@fresnobee.com

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