TULARE COUNTY (KFSN) --On the heels of a historically wet winter and with the idea that much more water will flow down the mountains this spring, leaders of the Lower Tule River Irrigation District hope to capture as much water as possible for their 500 or so farmers.
"You know this area has been ground zero in the drought impact for the last three or four years," Dank Vink with the South Valley Water Association said. "So, having the blessing of an abundant year has definitely got people in better moods."
Vink is the manager of the district and is also the executive director of the SVWA. He says the district is asking the Army Corps of Engineers to approve a sandbagging project along the Lake Success spillway.
It'll raise the lake level by six feet and increase its capacity by 10,000 acre-feet - or about 10 percent. The spillway, according to the Corps of Engineers, has been sandbagged four times before - twice in the 1960s, once in the 80s, and most recently in 1998.
"And it really allows us to store that water rather than have it run off and having to manage it for flood control in May or June, allows us to store that and use it later in the summer," Vink said.
Besides using the Tule River, Vink says most districts in this part of the Valley also rely on water from the San Joaquin River which flows down the Friant-Kern canal. And right now, he says if they don't use that water, they lose it.
"So, if we have an additional 10,000 acre-feet of storage, we can tell the Tule River, 'Hold off for a bit, we'll get to you later while we can take more water off the San Joaquin,'" he said. "So, that's the benefit of that."
The corps says a decision has not been made yet, but Vink is optimistic they will approve the project after they're through evaluating things like flood control and environmental compliance.
If it's approved, the sandbags would be placed on the spillway in May and be taken down in late July or August.