Valley counties push for funds for Temperance Flat Dam

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The drought has accelerated the call to build the massive dam on the San Joaquin River, above Friant Dam. (KFSN)

The drought has accelerated the call to build the massive dam on the San Joaquin River, above Friant Dam. It's a priority for Valley farmers and the Fresno County Board of Supervisors wants to form an organization, a joint powers authority, with other counties and agencies to apply for the money to build it.

Supervisor Brian Pacheco told his fellow board members at Tuesdays meeting, "Fresno County is not in the Dam building business, nor do we want to be, we simply want to provide the mechanism that provides all of the people of the valley an opportunity to apply for the bond money and this is one way to do it."

The Joint Powers Authority would look at applying for money to build a variety of projects including underground storage, but a 600 foot high Temperance Flat Dam is the dream. Mario Santoyo of the Latino Water Coalition is one of its biggest advocates.

Santoyo explained, "Temperance Flat clearly is the main goal here, because that's the one that can go in terms of capacity from half a million acre feet to 1.5 million acre feet and that would make a world of difference for drought years like we have right now."

However, critics say citing capacity is misleading since it's not likely the dam would ever be filled. Steve Evans of the Sacramento based Friends of the River, group says Temperance Flat does not provide much bang for the buck.

"The main issue is it doesn't produce very much water. The Bureau of Reclamations says it will produce an average of 70 thousand acre feet of water and that's a miniscule addition to our overall statewide water supply. It's not worth the $3 billion or so it's going to cost to build the damn."

Environmental groups around the state are opposed to dam building, and the LA Times ran an editorial this week against using water bond money for dams, so dam supporters may have a tough fight ahead, but Fresno County's vote to form a Joint Powers Authority is a first step in that battle.

Related Topics:
california waterwaterdroughtpoliticsFresno CountySierra - Foothills
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