California Water Commission will not significantly fund Temperance Flat Dam project

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The California Water Commission has voted to fund approximately a quarter of the cost of the Temperance Flat Dam project, but backers of the project think it's unlikely the money will ever come.

The proposed $2.7 billion dam would create a new reservoir that would hold more than one million acre-feet of water above Millerton Lake.

At Thursday's meeting, commissioners said the project would be eligible for $500 million. That's more than the Commission staff had recommended.

The last-minute boost came as commissioners disagreed with the staff conclusion Temperance Flat Dam project would create no new recreational opportunities.

But the commissioners agreed with the staff on one crucial point: they believe the project will create no ecosystem benefit that would improve the fishery for Spring-run Chinook Salmon. Supporters had attempted to argue that sending more cold water down the San Joaquin River would help revive the salmon run.

Because of that, San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority Executive Director Mario Santoyo says the project ultimately won't qualify for state water bond money.

During the meeting, several commissioners expressed that while they were sympathetic to the need to bring more water to the Valley, the rules of the Water Storage Investment Program prevented additional investment in the project. Many of the commissioners expressed frustration with the process established by the program.

The funding and commission were authorized by the Water Storage Investment Program established by Proposition 1, approved by state voters in 2014.

Thursday's vote came down after three days of hearings in Sacramento.

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