Rising water levels have potential for more flooding

FRESNO, Calif.

Experts say we have passed the peak flow season but there is still a great deal of snow in the mountains and ultimately more water to recharge the underground aquifer.

The water level at Friant dam has risen dramatically with the snowmelt. Even with four thousand cubic feet of water being released each second, Millerton Lake is rising two feet a day. The reservoir is expected to be full by the weekend. The flood release has overrun picnic grounds along the San Joaquin River. But Sarge Green of the California Water Institute says dam operators have done a good job of managing the snowmelt. "If not managed properly in creating enough space behind the reservoir in a timed way it could actually fill the reservoir very quickly and see it spill over the top."

Valley farmers are among those benefitting from flood releases filling local canals. Irrigation water released from Pine Flat Dam has created a sight not seen in Selma for five years. Normally dry Rockwell Pond is full of water. It's the largest recharge basin in the consolidated irrigation district. Underground aquifers are filling up again.

Randy McFarland said, "The water you see right here is going to be used for both irrigation and for domestic purposes. All the cities and towns around this part of Fresno County as well as the farmhouses in the countryside around here all use pumped water."

McFarland says everyone benefits from the ability to bring the water table back up because so much pumping has been going on the last five years. "We are more years than not taking more water out of the ground, out of the aquifer as than we are recharging."

A map shows the underground depth of Fresno County's water table. But Sarge Green says officials won't be able to gauge the aquifer level until October.

This week the Bureau of Reclamation has reduced the amount of water being released from both Friant and Pine Flat Dam.

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