Temperance Flat Dam project sinking, but hasn't drowned

Local leaders vow to continue to fight for dam after major setback from state

Fresno, Calif - A major setback for a dam that is supposed to triple the Central Valley's water storage capacity.

Thursday, the state decided Temperance Flat Dam is not eligible for the full amount of money requested.

Advocates wanted a billion dollars, were hoping to get no less that $500 million, but ultimately were told by the state they're eligible to compete for $171 million.

Local leaders said that is not enough to keep the project treading above water, but say the ship has not sunk yet.

"This fight is not over," said Lee Brand, mayor for the City of Fresno.

"The bottom line is we're not giving up," said Jim Costa, Congressman.

"If you are not from the Central Valley, you are going to have to take what is rightfully yours," said Alan Autry, former mayor of Fresno.

Costa, Brand, Autry along with Assemblymen Jim Patterson and Dr. Joaquin Arambula, farmers, and water advocates spoke out at a press conference inside of Fresno City Hall.

They all promised to continue to fight until Temperance Flat is one day built.

"It would provide much needed and long-awaited security for our water supply to allow the Central Valley to grow the crops that feed the entire world," said Brand.

Temperance Flat is a $2.7 billion dam.

The completion of the project is depended upon funding from the state, the federal government and private investors.

In 2014, voters passed a $2.5 billion water bond called Proposition 1.

The money from the bond is supposed to go towards new above ground and below ground water storage projects.

After the bond money was secured, the California Water Commission Board sifted through applications and narrowed it down to 11 projects.

Temperance Flat Dam and Sites Reservoir are the two biggest projects.

Wednesday and Thursday advocates tried to argue in front of the CWC board why the state should fully support their proposal.

"We had projected a public benefit of over $2.4 billion dollars," said Mario Santoyo, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority.

The water commission disagreed.

"They gave us zero," said Santoyo.

Ultimately the projected ended up being eligible to receive $171 million if they make it through the next few phases of the selection process.

Central Valley leaders said the state robbed them of critical funding needed to prepare the valley for the future.

"Zero allocation, that corrupt system just revealed themselves," said Autry.

Santoyo said they will go back to the drawing board to figure out alternative ways to fund the dam.

A comment from the California Water Commission was requested; they have not yet responded.

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