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Duarte brings Turlock $2.2 million for sewer, drainage projects
Duarte water money
Rep. John Duarte (R-Hughson) signs an extra-large check to the City of Turlock for $1 million to be used for the Positive Drainage Project, as part of a ceremony held Monday at the Turlock Water Plant. Turlock received a total of $2.2 million of Community Project Funding (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

Rep. John Duarte (R-Hughson) was in Turlock, as well as other Central Valley communities, on Monday to deliver Community Project Funding checks — as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024 — that totaled about $11 million.

Turlock received $1.2 million for its Golden State Boulevard sewer-extension project, and $1 million for the city’s stormwater infrastructure project.

“Every congressional office has the option to participate in community projects,” said Duarte. “Now, these used to be known as earmarks, and they got a bad name because, in the old days, they were abused. So, community projects have real restrictions on them now. They have to be shovel-ready, you can’t just put the money in the bank account. They have to be for a community-public entity … so a lot of the abuses have been curtailed and cut away, and that’s great, because it’s a great program.”

Turlock’s Golden State sewer-extension project focuses on extending an 18-inch diameter sewer main near Taylor Road. The extension, according to the city, will provide utility services to an unserved area of Stanislaus County currently on wells and septic tanks. 

The other project — the Positive Drainage Project — involves replacement and upsizing of 1,120 feet of pipe in the city to create a positive drainage system that would increase flood capacity and alleviate flooding concerns.

“We have worked well together with Congressman Duarte,” said Mayor Amy Bublak. “I got a call and it was from the Congressman and he said, ‘We haven’t got your request in; we need it by the end of the day.’ And that was huge. Turns out it was just a minor snafu, but he was there taking care of us.”

In addition to Turlock, Duarte secured $5 million for the Los Banos Creek recharge and recovery project; $3.5 million for the city of Modesto’s 911 emergency call center; and $276,000 for the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency.

“This is the one program where as a Congressman, I can go to entities within my district and find different categories of community projects and submit them,” said Duarte, who is wrapping up his first term in Congress. “I think the limit is $8-10 million maximum per project, and not all of them get funded. The appropriators have their way with them, and they prioritize them, but out of 15 filed we got 13 funded, which we’re very excited about. They total up about $24 million in community project funding.”

The $1.2 million for the Golden State project covers about two-thirds of the total cost, while the $1 million for the stormwater infrastructure projects covers about 95 percent. That’s a huge relief for city coffers.

“The $2.2 million gets us a lot of engineering on a lot of the projects,” said Chris Fisher, Turlock’s municipal services director and GM of the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority. “It depends on how complex the project is … But Turlock’s infrastructure is unique because we pass community service stations from Denair and Keyes through Turlock's sewer system, as well as the city of Ceres. So, when we’re able to maybe not be directly impacted by projects, it frees up some of that capital expense to do the more regional projects. And that’s really where our focus has been … to being a regional partner to the Valley.”