Lindsay faces $192K bill on canal fix

The city of Lindsay is attempting to find other ways to pay their cost of the 33-mile stretch of the Friant-Kern Canal wrecked by subsidence

LINDSAY – Contractors who’ve lost water from the Friant-Kern Canal’s subsidence are not the only ones feeling a pinch. The city of Lindsay realized last week that as a contractor themselves they’re on the hook to help fund the canal’s fix. Only it appears as if they won’t be able to afford their share.

Public services director for the city, Mike Camarena told the council that Lindsay may have to fork over $192,000. Payments will be made on a quarterly basis beginning in October 2021 through January 2023, and would range from $27,000 to $45,000.

“Having to come up with $192,000 is going to create a stress on our water enterprise fund,” Camarena said. “[We want] to look at some sort of alternative program for the city of Lindsay, or maybe we can identify a partnership with another district, or even look to other funding sources. But we’re still going to be responsible for that cost.”

According to a feasibility study that was prepared in January 2020 by the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), “The FKC middle reach…within Tulare and Kern Counties, has experience significant capacity loss.”

The report reaffirms that the capacity loss is a result of regional land subsidence that has occurred over the past decade, original design deficiency and other factors that prevent the intended flow capacity. In order to correct for subsidence the “Capacity Correction Project” is being developed to, “include design features, including sufficient embankment height, pressurized siphons below road crossings and other structures that will maintain design capacity as future land subsidence occurs during the project’s service life.”

It was not until last month’s Friant Water Authority (FWA) board meeting where staff identified estimated cost for each contractor or USBR long term contract holder. Camarena said the city may seek to renegotiate their contract with USBR to perhaps free up funds to help pay the $192,000.

City Manager Joe Tanner has been in correspondence with the Friant Water Authority over the major figure. In the letter—included in the city’s staff report—Tanner states the city is still recovering financially and the $192,000 is a major hurdle in the city’s water fund. As of now the city’s water revenues are expected to meet expenses, but even that does not include over $1 million in unfunded capital improvement projects.

Tanner also referred to how precarious it would be for the city to pass a rate increase onto their residents.

“The proposed cost schedule you submitted will put a strain on our short-term obligations. It also creates more pressure to pass the costs to our water users with proposed water rate increased through a Proposition 218 protest hearing process,” Tanner stated. “We are open to discuss our situation and possible options that work for you and the city of Lindsay.”

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