Snowmelt poses flood control challenge

FRESNO, Calif.

The strong flow and high water level on the Kings River perfectly illustrated the above average water year we've had - 168-percent of normal.

Local rivers and lakes have begun to swell. But Randy McFarland of the Kings River Water Association doesn't expect any flood problems downstream. He said, "It became evident to flood managers on all the rivers that this was going to be one of those years that there was going to be holes carved in the reservoirs as quickly as possible to store the runoff from snowmelt."

Friant Dam has undergone a dramatic change. Millerton Lake is not even half full right now.

Back in March we saw flood releases into the San Joaquin River because the dam was already at 85-percent of capacity. Michael Jackson of the Bureau of Reclamation said, "That's the thing about managing a reservoir this size relative to its runoff. You've got to turn the switch. You've got to make decisions quick."

Jackson added it won't take very long for the snowmelt to fill Friant Dam. "We're starting to fill up gradually now and as soon as we start hitting some more consecutive days of warm temperature we'd expect to see it fill up a little bit faster. So we're expecting to have a full reservoir around the middle to the latter part of June."

Much of the water produced from the snow-capped mountains will eventually make its way into local canals to irrigate Valley crops.

But McFarland warned the exceptional water year also brings danger. "All these rivers and streams are running high. They will all summer, they're cold. The currents are swift."

So you need to exercise extreme caution on the water.

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