Valley ag industry impressed by snowpack results, hopeful for more surface water

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Thursday, state officials gathered at Phillips Station east of Sacramento and announced a very robust snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. (KFSN)

Thursday, state officials gathered at Phillips Station east of Sacramento and announced a very robust snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. The results are due to atmospheric river storms and rain from smaller storms over the last four months.

Within the last month, the state was slammed so hard, that the snowpack in the sierra jumped from 64-percent of average to 173-percent of average, the most since the mid 1990's.

Satellite images from NASA also illustrate the stark difference between last year's snowpack--and this year's.

"(We're) feeling very good about it," said Laguna Irrigation District General Manager Scott Sills. "Been a long, dry five or six years."

It has been six years since Laguna Irrigation District received water from a Pine Flat Dam flood release.

But that changed last week, when water was let go through the Kings River.
It has allowed the district, which delivers water to 900 west side growers, to fill up their new 50-acre recharge basin for the first time since it was built last year.

"The farmers, the residents, anyone that takes water out of the ground for their wells, this is a benefit to them," Sills said.

During the recent dry years, Sills says some of his farmers were forced to cut back on what they grew.

Others had problems with water quality because of how deep they drilled into the ground.

But thanks to this season's heavy rain and snow, some growers in the district have already gone back to what they prefer with surface water.

"With them using this surface water now, that means those irrigation wells are off, and that's that much more water that stays in the ground at this point," Sills said.

Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner Marilyn Kinoshita says it's great to see the local reservoirs full, the flood releases happening, and growers optimistic that all this rain and snow will give them access to more surface water.

"Well our growers are ecstatic," she said. "Nobody is complaining whatsoever because it's been so long..."

Many areas of the state are still suffering from drought conditions, and there's no telling how long the storms will last.

That's why the Governor Jerry Brown will wait until this spring before deciding whether to lift the emergency drought declaration.

Related Topics:
societysnowfresno countygood newsagriculture
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