The Friant-Kern Canal is a 152 mi (245 km) Central Valley Project aqueduct managed by the United States Bureau of Reclamation in Central California to convey water to augment irrigation capacity in Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties. Construction began in 1949 and the canal was completed in 1951, at a cost of $60.8 million.
The Friant-Kern Canal begins at the Friant Dam of Millerton Lake, a reservoir on the San Joaquin River north of Fresno, and flows south along the eastern edge of the San Joaquin Valley, ending at the Kern River near Bakersfield. In a typical year, it diverts almost all the flow of the San Joaquin River, leaving the river dry for about 60 miles (97 km) downstream. The Central Valley Project Delta-Mendota Canal replenishes the San Joaquin River at the town of Mendota, and replaces the volume of water being delivered by the Friant-Kern Canal. Average annual throughput is 1,051,000 acre feet (1.296 km3), with a high of 1,720,000 acre feet (2.12 km3) in 2005, and a low of 58,000 acre feet (0.072 km3) in 2015. In the past few years canal flows have been reduced due to river restoration projects requiring a greater release of water from the Friant Dam into the San Joaquin.
The Friant-Kern Canal capacity is of 5,000 cu ft/s (140 m3/s), gradually decreasing to 2,000 cu ft/s (57 m3/s) at its terminus. The canal is built in both concrete and unlined earth sections. It is up to 128 feet (39 m) wide at the top and is 24 feet (7.3 m) wide at the bottom of concrete segments, and 40 to 64 feet (12 to 20 m) wide in earth segments. Water depths range from 11 to 19.9 feet (3.4 to 6.1 m).