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Friant-Kern Canal fix approved over concerns the plan isn’t fully baked

 •  by Lois Henry
The Friant Water Authority approved a plan to raise the embankments of the Friant-Kern Canal at the north and south end of a 33-mile long sag. It will also rebuild a 20-mile section in the middle of that sag alongside the existing canal.

The Friant Water Authority on Thursday approved the final environmental review for a massive project to fix a 33-mile segment of the Friant-Kern Canal despite continued questions about funding and other concerns expressed by some Friant contractors.

One water manager compared the plan to several bungled construction projects, including California’s High Speed Rail and a patient tower at the former Tulare Regional Medical Center that was labeled the  “tower of shame” in a 2016 Tulare County Grand Jury report for more than 700 change orders that created $17 million in additional costs.

“Delano-Earlimart (Irrigation District) is a downstream contractor. As such, we are highly impacted and want to see (the Friant-Kern Canal) project completed,” said Eric R. Quinley, General Manager of Delano-Earlimart. “But we want to make sure it’s constructed right.”

He listed several issues he and other water managers, including Dana Munn, General Manager of Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District, feel are “yellow flashing lights” that must be addressed before moving forward.

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