Where are we with Temperance Flat?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Published in the Kern County Valley Ag Voice – August 2017 Issue

It is no secret that in recent years California and the Central Valley have experienced extreme water shortages and, more recently, severe floods. For too long, Sacramento politicians ignored the need to invest in California’s water infrastructure and as a result, Californians have suffered.

In an effort to secure a desperately needed clean and reliable water supply, the Legislature and voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 1, better known as the 2014 Water Bond. The Bond designates $2.7 billion for water storage projects, dams, and reservoirs – such as the proposed Temperance Flat Dam.

Since the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority was organized in 2015, leaders from across the Valley have been working diligently to get Temperance Flat in a position to succeed.

The Temperance Flat Dam is a project that has been talked about for decades and after years of studies and planning, last week the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority signed an application requesting $1.3 billion in state funds to build the dam.

August 14th marks a historic day for the Valley, but it is still just the beginning. Temperance Flat is competing with projects such as Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley and Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County. The decision as to whether or not Temperance Flat will receive funding, now lies with the nine member California Water Commission, which is scheduled to make their decision by June 2018.

Recently, I was joined by Assemblyman Jim Patterson and 11 other members of the California State Legislature in sending a letter to Armando Quintero, Chairman of the California Water Commission, sharing our strong support for Temperance Flat’s Proposition 1 Water Storage and Investment Program funding application.

The 1.3 million acre-feet of water storage provided by Temperance Flat would supply enough reliable clean water for nearly 1 million households in the Central Valley, households that currently rely on unstable water deliveries from Federal and State water projects. Temperance Flat will provide a broad array of agricultural and public benefits such as flood control, recreational opportunities, water quality, and an emergency water supply during dry years.

Steve Worthley, Tulare County Supervisor and President of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, is confident that the project will receive a large portion of the requested funds.

However, receiving Proposition 1 bond funding is only the first of three steps in securing the $3 billion needed to complete Temperance Flat. The remainder of the cost to complete the dam will come from federal funding and private investment.

There is still a long road ahead and nothing is set in stone, but for now, we can all be proud of taking a major step toward ensuring that the San Joaquin Valley remains the nation’s leading agricultural producer and that we support the region’s economic engine, not to mention tens of thousands of jobs.