FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The water year doesn’t end until Sept. 30, but the Kings River Water Association says by Sept. 17 the Kings River had seen enough runoff to break a record.
“We knew it was going to be a big year, but we really didn’t think it was going to be quite this big,” Public information consultant for the Kings River Water Association Randy McFarland said.
From 2022 to 2023, the Kings River is expected to see 4.5 million acre-feet of runoff, breaking the record set in 1982 to 1983. The KRWA said the river measured past that record of 4.4763 million acre-feet earlier this month.
The next closest year was the 1968 to 1969 season with a total of 4.3862 million acre-feet. In recent memory, the only year that rivals this record-breaking season was from 2016 to 2017. It’s now classified as the fourth wettest year with 4.0961 million acre-feet of runoff.
“A record water year means we are heading into the right direction for water supply, after a lot of years of below average and drought conditions,” McFarland added.
McFarland says while the storms that dumped hundreds of inches of snow on our mountains this winter were crucial, it was the series of thunderstorms in the Sierra Nevada this summer and the remnants of Hurricane Hilary that really made the difference.
“That generated enough extra water that ultimately put us over the top,” he said.
And all this water has a huge impact. McFarland says right now, the Pine Flat Reservoir is more than 50% full, and that at this point last year it was around 14% full.
He says all the water is also filling ponds and groundwater basins all over the region, including one in Selma, where we spoke with him for this story.
“When there is extra water they will fill those ponds up, and the only purpose of it, is to let it sink into the ground and it eventually spreads out into the water table,” he said.
Despite all the water, growers are still waiting to determine just how much water they will be allocated for this upcoming year.