Ag Today December 18, 2017

Valley’s canal continues to sink, price tag could rise

, lfhernan@visaliatimesdelta.comPublished 8:52 a.m. PT Dec. 18, 2017

TERRA BELLA – A portion of one of the Valley’s largest waterway is sinking. It’s getting worse each month and while the water levels drop, the price tag rises.

Earlier this year, the Friant Water Authority reported measurements that showed a nearly 3-foot drop in the Friant-Kern Canal’s elevation in some places.

This summer, a second measurement showed an additional 5-inch drop since April — meaning the subsidence occurred at a rate of one inch per month.

“These findings are not entirely unexpected,” said Doug DeFlitch, Friant Water Authority chief operating officer. “Subsidence is a long-term challenge for the Friant Division, and will not be remedied after one year of good rain.”

The subsidence, or lowering of the cement-lined canal floor, reduces delivery capacity, creating a concern as the Friant-Kern Canal is gravity-fed and doesn’t rely on pumps to move water.

“If you have a piece that’s broken, the canal is in crisis,” said Eric Quinley, general manager for the Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District. “We must fix this. It has to happen. We have to have access to canal convince capacity on wet years.”

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