Water welcomed by valley farmers

FRESNO, Calif.

That compares with just a week ago when only 30 cubic feet per second was flowing from the dam.

Mario Santoyo, Director of the Friant Water Users Authority is sad to see all the water go away.

"I feel bad, it's … we know that it's really producing no benefit. It's not benefitting cities and it's not benefitting agriculture." Santoyo said.

The water is being released to make room for potential flood waters, like those that hit in 1997.

This dose of moisture is also causing problems for the Fresno Irrigation District, which in the growing season directs water to a quarter of a million acres.

The district's Assistant General Manager, Lawrence Kimua said; "We like to have it come down in the form of snow if we can get it and have it come down in the summertime."

Kimura said the rain has the district's crews working to keep the water from causing problems to farms and cities.

"We go into a flood control mode we don't get all of our maintenance done, we work closely with the Metropolitan Flood Control District to route all of our water through."

Despite the problems, Valley growers and irrigators are glad to see all the moisture. They just wish it didn't come all at once, and they could keep more of it.

"If you get too much of it too quickly, then you lose it and you end up being short when you need it. We're clearly short of storage so building a new reservoir like has been discussed for a long time is the best way to manage that water for both the cities and agriculture." Santoyo said.

The water being released from the dam now is for flood control, and is not part of the river restoration effort.

The Friant Water Users, and all Water districts in the Valley, especially Westlands, are happy to see all the moisture and most important, the mountain snowpack, which is now 198% of normal. That's likely to mean ample water supplies for agriculture through the summer growing season.

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