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Drought Impacting Agreement Keeping Pine Flat Level Up
An agreement set in 1999 keeps Pine Flat Reservoir above 100,000 acre feet to help keep the fish population healthy but a stipulation for droughts will likely be used this year.
The agreement between Kings River Conservation District, Kings River Water Association, Kings River Fisheries and Division of Wildlife Resources was started after Pine Flat dropped to 28,000 acre-feet. The low level killed fish populations and started a process to keep the lake high enough to maintain healthy fish.
This year is likely going to be the first time a stipulation in the agreement is used to be able to continue to send water downstream for crops. Randy McFarland with the Water Association and Conservation District says water needs to continue to flow to protect crops.
"(If not) could cause some hardship, maybe even crop losses and there's been enough of that around the valley this year," McFarland says, "It's been a really bad year as we all know."
All parties have agreed, according to McFarland, to let the water drop below 100,000 acre feet as long as it rises back above 100,000 acre feet in 120 days.
The level is at 11% of capacity. Pine Flat can hold 1 million acre-feet.