Part of California canal completed following land sinking damage

Reclamation, Friant Water Authority, and Calif.  DWR celebrated the completion of Phase 1 of the Friant-Kern Canal project, restoring capacity to 33 miles of the canal damaged from subsidence -- a gradual land sinking due to groundwater removal.
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  • Ribbon-cutting ceremony held for Friant-Kern Canal Phase 1 completion.
  • Restored capacity to 33 miles of the canal.
  • Addressed subsidence issues affecting water delivery.
  • Funded by federal, state, and local agencies.

June 24, 2024 –– The Bureau of Reclamation, Friant Water Authority, and California Department of Water Resources (DWR) marked a milestone on Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of Phase 1 of the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project. This phase will restore the capacity of 33 miles of the canal, which had been impaired by subsidence—a gradual land sinking due to groundwater removal.

The 152-mile Friant-Kern Canal is essential for delivering water to 1 million acres of farmland and over 250,000 residents from Fresno to Bakersfield in Central California. Since its construction in 1951, more than half of its original capacity has been lost in the middle reach due to subsidence. The project’s first phase involved constructing 10 miles of new concrete-lined canal to address one of the most significant pinch points in the subsiding section.

“Today’s ribbon-cutting celebration is a shining example of what can happen when federal, state, and local agencies partner together in pursuit of future water security,” stated Reclamation Regional Director Karl StockOpens in a new tab.. “This celebration marks an important milestone for one of Reclamation’s most critical priorities: to provide water supply reliability to one of the most productive agriculture regions in the nation.”

“There are few bigger priorities in water management than readying ourselves to move and store water when it’s wet. It takes partnerships like this between federal, state, and local governments to make sure our infrastructure is up to the task,” said DWR Director Karla NemethOpens in a new tab.. “That’s why DWR is so excited to celebrate today’s milestone on the federal Friant-Kern Canal. We look forward to similar partnerships to ensure that the California Aqueduct and Delta Mendota Canal are rehabilitated to meet the challenges of weather whiplash that lie ahead.”

Friant Water Authority Chief Executive Officer Jason Phillips addedOpens in a new tab., “The completion of Phase 1 will provide incalculable benefits for the farms, communities, and people of the Friant Division for decades. The Friant Water Authority looks forward to working with our project partners to protect the enormous investment made and to ensure that those benefits can be realized long after we are all gone.”

The project received funding from Reclamation, Friant Water Authority, and DWR. Phase 2 will address the remaining subsidence-related deficiencies in the Middle Reach section. This phase has been awarded over $22 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law through President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda for planning and design.

Owned by the federal government and operated by Friant Water Authority under a contract with Reclamation, the canal’s diminished capacity has led to up to 300,000 acre-feet of reduced water deliveries in some years, particularly in the middle reach The Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project aims to restore the conveyance capacity from the current estimated 1,600 cubic-feet-per-second to the original 4,000 cubic-feet-per-second, especially in the critical area near the Deer Creek check structure. Reclamation signed the Record of Decision for the project in November 2020.

Image via USBR news release.


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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