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Fall 2009

FWA Tracy Pumping Plant Tour

At the center of most of the controversy around the reduction of farm water to the Central Valley of California is the Tracy Pumping Plant and Fish Collection Facility.

Tracy Pumping PlantThe facilities are operated by the Bureau of Recalmation (BOR) and are part of the Federal Central Valley Project. Family Water Alliance staff, board members, subcontractors and legislative staffers had the opportunity to tour the facility on September 10, 2009.

The C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant was completed in 1951, and the sheer size of the facility is an engineering accomplishment. The facility diverts water from the Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta into the Delta Mendota Canal. The facility can pump up to 767 cubic feet per second of water.

The pumping plant provides water to over 2.1 million acres of landFish salvage plant employees sample for Delta smelt and other fish species. within the western San Joaquin Valley. Over three-quarters of the water from the facility is delivered to farms and the remaining is delivered to cities and wildlife refuges.

The Family Water Alliance tour was conducted by Ron Silva, Program Manger for BOR. Silva had extensive knowledge of the pumping plant and fish collection facility. Silva explained that the original fish collection facility has been modified to incorporate recent biological data requirements and is currently being renovated and modified to update technology and equipment.

The current renovation is expected to cost $30 million. The fish facility uses louvers, bypasses and holding tanks to collect the fish species before they are transported down stream from the pumping facility. The facility also tracks fish entrainment and records the data multiple times a day.

Both the pumping plant and the fish collection facility are important to California’s economy. The facilities have the ability to provide reliable water to California farms and cities, but agreement on how to best modify the facility to protect fish species comes with an expensive price tag, but no action will only further hurt California’s economy and the famers and communities that rely on it.■

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