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Fish passage project at Red Bluff Diversion Dam ready to begin

Work is set to begin on California's Red Bluff Diversion Dam Fish Passage Improvement Project, which is part of the nation's largest Department of the Interior economic stimulus project.

The project is a $5.25 million cooperative agreement that is part of the $109 million going to Red Bluff under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Also in California, The federal government announced recently it may spend $7.5 million in federal stimulus money to build a new Santa Paula Creek fish ladder for the steelhead trout population after the existing ladder failed to function properly. The first ladder, constructed less than a decade ago, cost about $1 million.

The Red Bluff Diversion Dam gates are lowered to form Lake Red Bluff, which diverts water from the Sacramento River into the Tehama- Colusa and Corning canals to irrigate 150,000 acres crops. When the gates are lowered, they 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, received the $5.25 million to construct an interim screened pumping plant to deliver irrigation water while the gates are raised, providing unimpeded fish passage.

More than $76 million will be provided at a later date for construction of a permanent pumping plant. The project will be completed in phases, with completion expected in 2012.

The total project cost is estimated at $230 million and is being funded in part by the $109 million in ARRA money.

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