Recent storms flood canal construction, but project flows forward

Rains washed out a temporary berm of the Friant-Kern Canal near Deer Creek, Friant Water Authority says two-thirds of new embankments are nearly complete

TULARE COUNTY – Despite some issues on the Friant-Kern Canal’s Middle Reach Capacity Correction project, the task is still set to hit its completion mark next year.

Recent rainfall and flooding caused some overflow at Deer Creek, which breached and washed away a temporary bypass berm, a strip of raised land often found along canals. This allowed water from the creek to divert across the Friant-Kern Canal, introducing water to the Deer Creek siphon area and unearthing a new canal section south of the creek. However, Friant Water Authority (FWA) has assured the project’s timeline is still on track to be completed by January 2024.

“Fortunately, there were no injuries nor any damage to the other structures, and the contractor is optimistic that repairs will not extend the overall schedule for completing the middle reach capacity correction project,” FWA stated via Waterline newsletter.

According to FWA, the project’s construction team has continued to ensure steady progress regardless of these recent setbacks. Five out of nine of the canal’s segments have new embankments – which are walls or banks of earth or stone made to prevent flooding – that range between 61% to 92% completion. The four remaining segments’ embankments are between 18% to 47% complete.

The Deer Creek siphon is a recent addition to the creek to address issues of flooding and subsidence in the canal. Subsidence happens when large amounts of water have been drawn from specific rock materials in an area, causing the land there to sink; a problem that was discovered in the Friant-Kern Canal by FWA in early 2017. The problem affected the canal’s carrying capacity and its ability to deliver water to Friant contractors towards the southern section of the canal. According to FWA, this problem is not new, as the gravity-fed canal’s capacity has been compromised by various factors since it first began operation in 1951.

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