TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Early Monday morning, water started its two-day journey flowing from the Pine Flat Dam into the old Tulare Lakebed.
Water officials feel this is needed, because of all the water the dam is getting, and with more snowmelt on the way.
The water will end up downstream to farmland South of Hanford, and West of Corcoran, where the Tulare Lake used to sit.
“The Kings River has been flowing high now for the last two to three weeks with all of the storms we’ve been having,” said Randy McFarland, a consultant for the Kings River Water Association. “We haven’t had a big water year like this since ’82, ’83, and this one has the potential to be the biggest water year ever recorded or observed in modern history,” McFarland said.
McFarland is part of the team overseeing water going from Kings River into the Tulare Lake Canal, where the water will get distributed to farmland or evaporate over time.
“It gives you some idea, we’re talking about a lot of water,” McFarland said.
2.6-million-acre feet of water is expected to pass through Pine Flat Dam, and the dam can only hold about 1 million-acre feet. Normally, the water goes North to the San Joaquin River, but there’s so much water now, they have to release it to the Kings River too.
“So, the core has to make room for it and that’s what flood releases are for, and that’s what’s happening right now,” said McFarland with the Kings River right behind him.
After the water is released from the dam, it makes its way here South of Stratford on Highway 41, where it splits into three ways, the Blakeley Canal, the Kings River, and the Tulare Lake Canal.
The river is already on the rise. At the Kingsburg Golf Course, the water was already making its way into the parking lot.
“Anybody who has property along the Kings River or lives very close to the river absolutely has to be cognoscente of the danger,” McFarland said.
McFarland believes the river could rise another five feet with flood water releases. He says putting water into the old lakebed isn’t new, they’ve done it before when there is too much water and nowhere for it to go.