Agriculture

Valley groups, feds seek funds to build Temperance Flat dam

Mario Santoyo, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, which is seeking funds to build the long-discussed Temperance Flat dam.
Mario Santoyo, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, which is seeking funds to build the long-discussed Temperance Flat dam. Vida en el Valle

A coalition of local elected officials, water districts, tribal members and the federal government will gather Friday to launch the application process to help build Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir project.

Members of the newly formed San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority will work with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to complete the funding application for the proposed water project on the San Joaquin River, in the Sierra foothills east of Friant Dam.

The two groups will sign a memorandum of understanding Friday outside the Old Fresno County Courthouse overlooking Millerton Lake.

Mario Santoyo, executive director of the authority, said the group will be applying for a portion of the $2.7 billion in state water bond funds. As part of the bond, successful projects will be awarded a maximum of 50 percent of the total cost of the project.

In the case of Temperance Flat, the expected price tag is $2.8 billion.

Santoyo said the authority will be asking for about $1 billion. The remainder of the funds will be requested from Congress.

The deadline for the application is July 2017.

Getting the help of the Bureau of Reclamation was critical, Santoyo said.

“They have the technical documents and a feasibility report that we will need,” Santoyo said. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. If we had to provide that information it could cost between half a million to $1 million.”

The authority was put together for the purpose of applying for major water bond projects. Its members include representatives from Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Merced and Kings counties, along with the cities of Orange Cove, Clovis, Avenal and Huron. Water districts, including San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority and Westlands Water District, are included, as is Table Mountain Rancheria.

If authorized by Congress, the dam and reservoir would become part of the federal Central Valley Project and create 1.2 million acre feet of new water storage. That’s more than double the current capacity of Millerton Lake.

Robert Rodriguez: 559-441-6327, @FresnoBeeBob

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