The Kings River from Pine Flat Dam to the Tulare and Kings county lines is being closed to recreation effective immediately with a $225 fine for violators.
Fresno Sheriff Margaret Mims gave the order in the best interest of public safety, the Sheriff's Office said.
Due to a large amount of melting snow in the Sierra, Pine Flat Dam is currently taking in water at a rate of 16,300 cubic feet per second (CFS) -- which equates to 122,250 gallons of water per second or 7.3 million gallons per minute, the Sheriff's Office said. About half of that is flowing into the Kings River making it unsafe.
The amount the dam is taking in is more than double the amount flowing a week ago.
Exposure to the cold water can cause hypothermia, which can quickly lead to exhaustion or unconsciousness, the Sheriff's Office said.
Mims said, "We want to prevent any kind of incident on the river as a result of the fast flowing water."
The Sheriff’s Office will strictly enforce the closure and violators will be fined for recreational activity such as boating, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and floating.
Both Tulare and Kings counties have also closed its portions of the Kings River in the interest of public safety.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office will be reassessing water levels and river conditions throughout the summer. If deemed safe, access to the river could be reopened to the public, the Sheriff's Office said.
"We will monitor that every day," Mims said. "They'll let me know [the conditions] and I can make a determination if we can allow people on the river."
The last time the river was closed was back in 2010.
To check the hourly flows from Pine Flat Dam, go to: www.spk-wc.usace.army.mil