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McCarthy Commends Trump Administration on Completing Environmental Reviews of the Friant-Kern Canal Project

Nov 4, 2020
Press Release


Today, Congressman Kevin McCarthy released the following statement on the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation completing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project. Signing of the Record of Decision (ROD) marks completion of the required environmental reviews, which now allows this project to advance to the construction phase.

McCarthy released the following statement:

“With this action today, all of the environmental documentation is complete and this project can now move into the pre-construction and construction phases.  

“From repairing the Friant-Kern Canal to issuing new updated, science-based regulations to bring our communities more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the President and his teams at the Interior Department and Bureau of Reclamation have done more in 4 years to end the neglect of previous Administrations and help Californians get the water they contract and pay for. 

“I want to thank Secretary Bernhardt and Commissioner Burman for continuing to prioritize critical repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal. I also want to commend President Trump for never wavering from his commitment to get water flowing to Central Valley families, communities, and farmers. I look forward to working with the Trump Administration, the Friant Water Authority, and other stakeholders to continue to advance this important canal repair project.” 

 

Local stakeholders released the following statements on the signing of the ROD: 

“Today’s action by the Bureau of Reclamation to sign the ROD is the culmination of years of dedicated work and cooperation among the Friant Water Authority and our partners at the Department of the Interior, with critical support and assistance from Leader McCarthy and our other congressional representatives who have helped maintain momentum to achieve today’s outcome. On behalf of the nearly 15,000 farms and dozens of communities who rely on the Friant-Kern Canal, I extend our deep appreciation for Leader McCarthy for his leadership on this project, without which the long-term economic prosperity of the southern San Joaquin Valley would be in jeopardy.” Friant Water Authority Chairman Chris Tantau

“Since 2017, Friant Water Authority has been working in lockstep with the Bureau of Reclamation to assess how much subsidence has diminished the Friant-Kern Canal’s capacity and how it can be fixed to benefit the communities of the southern San Joaquin Valley. Signing of the ROD affirms the commitment of our federal partners to seeing this project through.” - Friant Water Authority CEO Jason Philips

“For decades, Arvin-Edison Water Storage District has borne the brunt of the Friant-Kern Canal’s capacity limitations. We’re both the southernmost district on the canal and the single largest Class 2 water contractor, which means we live and die by our ability to recharge groundwater aquifers using water the canal delivers. Now that the ROD has been signed, we’re one step closer to implementing this project and restoring lost water supplies to the small communities and farmers in our district who rely on the aquifers this canal helps keep sustainable.” - Arvin-Edison Water Storage District President Edwin Camp

“Without repairing the Friant-Kern Canal, life as we know it in the San Joaquin Valley will change dramatically. The southern San Joaquin Valley is the top agricultural region in the United States, and our communities will only continue to thrive with federal and local leadership on investments that achieve long-term sustainability, like repairing the Friant-Kern Canal. Today moves us closer to that future.” - Porterville Irrigation District President Eric Borba

“It can’t be overstated: the southern San Joaquin Valley depends on surface water for its long-term sustainability. The signing of the ROD is a massive win for our communities, environment and agricultural industry at large. We are entering a long overdue era of investment in to our existing infrastructure, and Kern County Farm Bureau (KCFB) will continue collaborative efforts with stakeholders to ensure Kern County remains a leader in the global ag industry. The KCFB appreciates the efforts of Congressman McCarthy and the Bureau of Reclamation and commends them on their pursuit of bringing much needed water supplies to the Central Valley.” – John C. Moore III, President, Kern County Farm Bureau

“The final environmental hurdle has been cleared for the Friant-Kern Canal repair project. The Tulare County Farm Bureau applauds President Trump, his administration and our valley congressmen, especially Congressman McCarthy, for sheparding this project through the regulatory maze. As we all know, water is the engine that drives the San Joaquin Valley and it’s availability affects ALL residents. Our water concerns continue, but this is a refreshing step in the right direction.” - John C. Guthrie, President, Tulare County Farm Bureau 

 Background:

  • In September 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation published the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report for the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project (FKC Project) that identified a preferred alternative on correcting subsidence on the Friant-Kern Canal, as required by NEPA.
  • Under NEPA, Reclamation was required to wait at least 30 days before signing the ROD, which formally selects the preferred alternative and completes the required environmental reviews of the FKC Project. The preferred alternative for the FKC Project includes realigning portions of the middle reach of the canal and raising the lining on other portions of the canal.
  • In July 2020, Reclamation issued a final feasibility report to Congress for the FKC Project, which authorizes this project under the WIIN Act thereby making it eligible to receive construction funds when requested by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and subsequently appropriated by Congress.
  • In 2017, the Friant Water Authority discovered significant subsidence (up to 2 feet in some areas) along 33 miles of the Friant-Kern Canal in Tulare and Kern Counties. The subsidence has reduced the canal’s capacity to deliver water by 60% to the Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District, Kern Tulare Water District, Sausalito Irrigation District, Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District, South San Joaquin Municipal Utility District, Tea Pot Dome Water District, and Terra Bella Irrigation District.
  • In 2017, one of the wettest years in recent history, 300,000 acre-feet of water could not be delivered through the Friant-Kern Canal to those who contract and pay for it due to subsidence. 
  • In 2016, the bipartisan Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, which was championed by McCarthy, was signed into law. Section 4007 of the law created a process by which water infrastructure projects, like the FKC Project, can be authorized by Congress and provided Federal funds of up to 50% of total project costs.  
  • Between Fiscal Year 2018 and Fiscal year 2020, Congressman McCarthy secured $4,550,000 for the FKC Project for studies and environmental compliance work at the request the DOI.
  • Reclamation estimates the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project will cost $500,000,000, which will be financed through a combination of Federal and non-Federal funds.
  • Built between 1939 and 1944, the Friant-Kern Canal is 152 miles long, delivering water from Millerton Lake to the eastern side of the Central Valley for irrigation and conjunctive use purposes, and terminates near Bakersfield, California.
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