City of Fresno making a half a million dollar gamble on Temperance Flat Dam Project

Friday, November 3, 2017
Temperance Flat
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Temperance Flat Dam would be built in the middle of Millerton Lake, and could potentially hold a million acre feet of water.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The proposed Temperance Flat Dam would be built in the middle of Millerton Lake, and could potentially hold a million acre-feet of water. Valley irrigation districts and the city of Fresno see it as an important key to storing water and surviving future droughts.

"It's the ability to store water in a year like this, the water went down the river out to the ocean and we had nowhere to put it, so this would allow us to carry over water for those dry years," said Thomas Esqueda.

Fresno Public Utilities director Thomas Esqueda asked the City Council to approve spending half a million dollars so the city can show the state and federal government how it would use the water.

The state is expected to provide one billion dollars from the state water bond approved by voters, for the estimated three billion dollar project. The city and irrigators are part of a joint powers authority supporting the dam. Manual Cunha, of the Nisei Farmers league, is active in the authority. He is optimistic about the project, even though it is not certain the state money will come through.

"There is no guarantee on that I guess at the end of the day. We are going to help-- we did all of our homework and we can show the state and Federal Government we've got our piece of the pie and we've got people that want the water and are gonna buy a chunk of space in Temperance," said Manuel Cunha.

The State Department of Water Resources is expected to decide on whether to help fund Temperance Flat next month. But there's competition from other water storage projects around the state. Esqueda says the city should keep planning no matter what.

"We have always anticipated this project is something we would pursue with our without the state funding."

Without state help, the Federal Government and the water users, farmers, and the city would have to pick up the cost of the project. Despite the uncertainty, the City Council agreed to spend the half million dollars.