Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendón boarded a barge the morning of Aug. 22 to see what supporters of the Temperance Flat Dam envision as a $3 billion answer for additional water storage to provide water for agricultural and residential use in drought years.
Rendón remained noncommittal following the 70-minute tour arranged by the San Joaquín Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, which has applied for $1.3 billion from the Proposition 1 funds to help construct the dam.
“It’s a technical process the way the bond was written. We wanted it to be a technical process, a lot of the folks that I was with here today were there,” said Rendón. “I was impressed with the amount of planning and thoughtfulness of those who are involved in the project.”
The reservoir could potentially hold three times the capacity of Millerton Lake. The project is one of 12 proposals submitted to the California Water Commission requesting water bond funds.
“It’s a fascinating project; complex in some ways, but certainly when you get out there, it’s a bit easier to visualize,” said Rendón, who was joined in the tour by Assemblymember Joaquín Arámbula, D-Fresno, Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria, Orange Cove Mayor Víctor López and other officials.
Temperance Flat backers would use additional funds from federal and private sources to build the dam.
“Water is the essential life blood for our community. If we don’t have water, we’re not able to grow to our potential. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to present our case. We have an opportunity to speak with the governor, we have an opportunity to speak with members of the water commission, and help to make our case,” said Arámbula.
Rendón sat next to Arámbula during the tour. They heard heard from local supporters of the plan and how it could improve on several fronts.
“One: there would be water delivered down to the Mendota pool, where physical delivery of water could be made to Westside farmers,” said Mario Santoyo, the water authority executive director.
“Two: There will be water management cells that would be available here at Temperance that they can use pay per transfer to accumulate that can be carried over from year-to-year, so that they don’t ever have to worry about not having water in dry years. He’s developing a better knowledge of our project.”
Rendón spoke with López, who was also on the tour.
“This is really exciting to see the speaker come in and talk to us about it. He seems to be very, very supportive,” said López, who told Rendón he’s speaking on behalf of the farmworkers, “Without water, we have no jobs. Our economy would be destroyed. We can’t build housing, we can’t do nothing. I told the Speaker, we need his support,” said López