In April, the US Bureau of Reclamation announced a 100 percent allocation to Central Valley Project contractors south of the Delta. The Bureau's decision marked the first full allocation since 2006 and is reflective of the estimated 173 percent above-average snowpack and above-average rainfalls this winter.
Our recent winter storms may have temporarily addressed short-term water needs, but years of drought, decades of neglected infrastructure, and lack of investment in new systems continue to threaten our water delivery system statewide—systems that continue to age dangerously and become more expensive to fix the longer we wait.
Earlier this year, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) released a report that presented another piece of evidence regarding the serious state of neglect of California's water infrastructure.
The report, conducted by NASA for DWR, found "that land continues to sink rapidly in certain areas of the San Joaquin Valley, putting state and federal aqueducts and flood control structures at risk of damage." The report called this sinking, or subsidence, "troubling" and "unsustainable."
Subsidence has caused the California Aqueduct to drop more than two feet in some places. Why is this concerning? A part of the State Water Project, the California Aqueduct supplies water to 25 million Californians and nearly one million acres of farmland.
NASA's analysis also found subsidence of up to 22 inches along the Delta-Mendota Canal, a major artery of the Central Valley Project (CVP), operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that supplies water to approximately three million acres of farmland and more than two million Californians.
DWR concludes that groundwater over-drafting has created this problem and is considering curtailments as a possible solution. Placing limits on the use of well water will create significant hardships on farmers, families, and communities all around the Valley, at a time when they struggle to recover from a drought, recession, decreased water deliveries, and prepare for the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
These problems will persist without a comprehensive investment in the water system in the Central Valley. California has not built additional water storage facilities for decades and has not invested in new water delivery systems that meet the growing demand throughout California, particularly in the Central Valley.
To illustrate this demand, California's 1970 population of almost 20 million is roughly half of what it is today. With an estimated population growth rate of 340,000 additional people every year until 2030, the pressures on our water delivery system will only increase.
The California Water Commission is currently accepting applications for funding for new water storage projects under Prop. 1. The decision about which projects will be funded will be made early next year after the Commission reviews and scores the applications based on a number of factors, including the public benefit of the project.
Temperance Flat Reservoir, just east of Fresno on the San Joaquin River, has been studied and reviewed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and is the only major project that would create water storage south-of-the Delta.
We cannot wait any longer to invest in water infrastructure. We cannot wait another 50 years to increase our water storage by another nominal amount.
This is why I am committed to continuing to work with our San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority – the Joint Powers Authority putting together the application on Temperance Flat – and other stakeholders such as the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce, our rural school districts, our rural health providers, and our community members to ensure that we act now.
I urge you to join me and sign our petition to support the building of Temperance Flat Dam.
Watch Assemblymember Arambula Advocate for Temperance Flat on the videos below: