Warm weather melting snow quickly causing water and concerns along the Kings River to rise

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The heavy snow in the Sierra is melting fast, and the water is filling up and pouring out of Pine Flat Dam. (KFSN)

The heavy snow in the Sierra is melting fast, and the water is filling up and pouring out of Pine Flat Dam.

"January and February combined inflow was greater than anything in history, it exceeded historical record by about 50,000 acre feet," said Steve Haugen, Watermaster for the Kings River Water Association.

Haugen said the swollen Kings River is providing plenty of irrigation water for Valley farms-- but causing some problems.

"We've got water in portions of the river at higher levels than we normally see during irrigation season-- and that's causing inconveniences for some folks. There are golf courses experiencing problems, marina operators, there's seepage into various growers fields that are impacting crops, and as we get further downstream there's some channels experiencing some fairly high water levels that are making some folks nervous."

Ada Romero is one of those nervous folks-- her home in the River Bend Trailer park off of Highway 180 near Minkler is right on the river, and threatened.

"Yes I'm very worried, this is terrible. The water is rising, yesterday none of this was here and today we woke up with this."

The one flooded yard was the only damage we saw, but the heavy flow poses a potential threat to canals and levees.

Dave Merrit, the Deputy General Manager of the Kings River Conservation District, said the district has headed off major problems.

"As of right now things are good again, we are out there monitoring and keeping on top of issues as we see them so we can address things as they come up."

The Army Corps of Engineers in cooperation with the Kings River Water Association are regulating the flow out of the dam. Keeping it about 70-percent full leaving room for what could be a heavy spring run-off.

"The April to July runoff volume is forecast to be the sixth largest one on record since 1895. The water year itself could be fourth wettest on record, so there's a lot of water that needs to be moved through the system this year," said Haugen.

What happens all depends on the weather-- more rain and snow would add more water, and a prolonged warm spell could accelerate the mountain snow melt, either scenario could put even more water in the channel.
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