Friant Unit of the Central Valley Project
The Friant Unit of the Central Valley Project delivers water to over one million acres of irrigable farm land on the east side of the southern San Joaquin Valley from approximately Chowchilla on the north to the Tehachapi Mountains on the south. The principal features of the Friant Unit begin with the San Joaquin River at Millerton Reservoir, (Friant Dam), located northeast of Fresno. Out of Millerton Reservoir water is distributed to contracting irrigation and water districts and local cities by way of the Friant-Kern Canal, that goes to the south, and the Madera Canal, that goes to the north. The majority of the water rights to the San Joaquin River allowing for the diversion of water at Friant Dam were obtained by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation through purchase and exchange agreements with the individuals and entities that held those rights at the time the project was developed. The single largest of these agreements requires annual delivery of 800,000 acre feet of water to the central San Joaquin Valley near Mendota. Thus the Friant Unit is dependent upon other features of the Central Valley Project, including Shasta Dam, the Tracy Pumping Plant and the Delta-Mendota Canal, to facilitate this required exchange. In 1975 the locally financed Cross Valley Canal was completed, bringing water from the California aqueduct through a series of six pump lifts to the east side of the southern San Joaquin Valley is obtained through the pumping of groundwater. The benefits of water being brought into this area as a result of the Friant Unit in helping to maintain a dependable and good quality groundwater reservoir will become greater as this area grows and diversifies.