$14.6M contract awarded for California water project

FRESNO — The federal government has awarded a $14.6 million contract to start a project that will link state and federal canals in California's San Joaquin Valley.

The funding comes from the federal stimulus package and was announced Thursday by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The $30 million Intertie Project will connect the Delta Mendota Canal and the California Aqueduct using a 500-foot underground pipe and pumps. More federal money and funds from water users will support setting up transmission lines and performing environmental reviews in a second phase.

Officials say the project will add flexibility in managing the water system and allow water transfers to farmers by early 2012. The contractor is Shimmick Construction of Oakland.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.