New Water Storage and Management Option Proposed

A new reservoir is proposed at McKay Point, near Lemon Cove and Woodlake, to provide new water storage, flood control and potential power generation. The project is a joint venture of property owners Tulare Irrigation District, the Consolidated Peoples Ditch Company and the Visalia & Kaweah Water Company.

CEMEX, an aggregates and building materials company with long-established local operations, will excavate the reservoir site and sell the materials. The owners will then receive a royalty on the sale of materials, which provides revenue that should make the project financially feasible, explained Paul Hendrix, general manager of the Tulare Irrigation District.

A series of public hearings this month have enabled Tulare Irrigation District to gather public input on elements that residents feel need to be considered in the Environmental Impact Report. Public comments must be submitted by Feb. 27.

The key components of the project are:

  • More efficient capture and distribution of water for ag use. The new reservoir, and its water control features, will allow for water to be captured and more efficiently distributed for agricultural use, when farmers need it. Currently, during times of flood release from Terminus Dam, water not immediately needed is diverted to groundwater recharge basins or discharged to the historic Tulare Lake Bed. The reservoir will allow for increased upstream storage of this water.
  • Flood control. During wet years, water will be diverted into the reservoir, thereby lessening the risk of water backing up into the streets of downtown Visalia. Water would be returned to the Lower Kaweah and the St. Johns rivers when it is safe and beneficial to do so.
  • Power generation. The hydroelectric generators at the Terminus Dam outlets at Lake Kaweah will be able to produce more power, especially during times of peak demand, once the McKay Point reservoir is available. The resulting clean power may provide revenue to support the maintenance of the reservoir and other projects as needed to ensure continued delivery of water to support agriculture.
  • More water for local use. During wet years, water from the Kaweah River, Dry Creek and Yokohl Creek typically floods farmland and/or is diverted to the Friant-Kern Canal for disposal in the Kern River near Bakersfield (assuming the Kern River has capacity). The McKay Point Reservoir will capture some of this floodwater and hold it until it can be safely released back into the Kaweah and St. Johns rivers for immediate use or for groundwater recharge.

“The reservoir and its new water control structures will significantly improve how we capture, store and distribute water,” Hendrix noted. “The partnership with CEMEX is necessary in order for the owners to deliver an important service to the region at virtually no cost to the general public.”

The reservoir itself, to be located north of the separation of the Kaweah and St. Johns rivers, is expected to take about 120 acres of the jointly owned 500 acres.

“McKay Point meets a real need,” Hendrix added. “It is an excellent example of responsible and resourceful management of energy and water. In this increasingly water-short region, finding new ways to make good use of wet-year water and flood flows is critically important.”

For information on the McKay Point Reservoir project, visit or contact Paul Hendrix or Aaron Fukuda, Tulare Irrigation District, 686-3425; James Silva, Consolidated Peoples Ditch Co., 747-1177; or Richard Moss, Provost & Pritchard, 636-1166.

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