RED BLUFF, Ca–Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Mike Connor broke ground Tuesday at the Red Bluff Diversion Dam on Diamond Avenue as part of the largest Department of the Interior economic stimulus project in the nation. The ground breaking marks the beginning of construction of the Fish Passage Improvement Project at the Red Bluff Diversion Dam, a $5.25 million cooperative agreement that is part of the $109 million going to Red Bluff under the President’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
“Through the use of economic stimulus funds, we are protecting the region’s farming economy and jobs while helping to provide safe passage for fish,” Secretary Salazar said when announcing the award in July 2009. “This is a win-win project for both people and the environment and represents a vital component of the Obama Administration’s effort to help the people of the Central Valley and other areas in California.”
“This project represents almost 40 years of efforts by many entities to find a balanced solution that improves fish passage and sustains the reliability of agricultural water deliveries,” Commissioner Connor said today. Construction is authorized as part of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.
The Red Bluff Diversion Dam’s gates are lowered to form Lake Red Bluff, which enables the gravity diversion of water from the Sacramento River into the Tehama-Colusa and Corning Canals to irrigate 150,000 acres of high-value cropland, more than half of which are planted in permanent orchards. However, when lowered to provide irrigation water, the gates block threatened and endangered salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon, as well as other fish species, from reaching their spawning grounds.
Reclamation’s partner, the Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority (TCCA), received the $5.25 million in ARRA funds to construct an interim screened pumping plant to deliver irrigation water while the gates are raised, thus providing unimpeded fish passage. A construction contract for the bridge and siphon was awarded in December for $21.45 million and a supply contract for pumps and motors was awarded in January for $6.96 million. An additional $76.2 million in ARRA funds will be provided at a later date to construct a permanent pumping plant.
The Project will be completed in multi-phases by Reclamation, TCCA, and the State of California. The total Project cost is estimated at $230 million and is being paid for partially by the $109 million in ARRA money. Construction of the Project is expected to begin in summer 2010 and be completed in 2012.
The Council on Economic Advisors estimates that 1,200 jobs will be created by the Project. Other indirect economic benefits of the Project include the preservation of up to 10,000 jobs in the region.