by Deirdre Des Jardins, Saturday Aug 7th

The $11.1 billion state water bond would, among other things, authorize $3 billion for “new storage,”, including a proposed dam at Temperance Flat, on the San Joaquin River above Friant Dam in Fresno County. The second dam is supposed to increase the reliability of the water supply for Eastside San Joaquin Valley farmers.

The dam-building crowd has long criticized Friant dam, built in the 1940’s on the San Joaquin River, as being too small to capture the entire flows of the river in wet years. They forget that the dam was never designed to divert the entire flow of the river. In fact many promises were made by the federal government that only surplus flows would be diverted south via the Friant-Kern canal.

Instead, when the dam was completed, the Bureau of Reclamation dried up the river, and sent the water south to big cotton growers. It was the first great water grab in the San Joaquin Valley for private interests. And it cheated regular Fresno residents of the many beneficial uses of the state’s second largest river. Riverfront homeowners sued, but lost after a 16 year long legal battle. It took another 50 years to restore just 18% of the flow of the river to its natural course.

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