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Lawsuit claims Kern County Water Agency shorted a key local canal’s volume

 •  by Lois Henry
The Cross Valley Canal looking east from Stockdale Highway in Bakersfield appears full on June 30, 2021. A lawsuit claims cost cutting during a recent expansion shorted the anticipated capacity. CREDIT: Lois Henry

The Cross Valley Canal is a key cog in the southern San Joaquin Valley’s water machinery.

It moves water east and west between the California Aqueduct along Kern County’s western edge to the Kern County Water Agency’s facilities near Manor Street in Bakersfield. Along the way, it also connects with the federally owned Friant-Kern Canal, making it important structure for farms and towns that get water from both the state and federal systems.

To get even more out of the canal, the agency embarked on a $79 million expansion of the canal in 2004. The project was completed in 2012.

The work was supposed to have increased the amount of water the canal could carry from 922 cfs (cubic feet per second) to 1,422 cfs.

Except that didn’t happen, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District, Cawelo Water District and the Lower Tule River and Pixley irrigation districts.

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Lois Henry
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