Empty rain basins remain in South Valley

TULARE, Calif.

Farmers will need at least a half-dozen more storms like this last one to get through this winter without having to irrigate. At the Tulare Irrigation District, officials are closely monitoring this year's rainfalls.

Water recharge basins at the Tulare Irrigation District remain empty, even after last weekend's rain storm. Tulare Irrigation District General Manager Paul Hendrix says while the basins soaked up some of the rain for groundwater, the storm barely made a dent in catching up to normal rainfall totals. "If we had a winter more normal, or certainly what we had last December, this would be full of water as would many other basins throughout the district."

This year's rainfall is a stark contrast not only for what's normal for this time of year, but when compared to last winter's record-breaking rainfall.

Last year at this time the Tulare Irrigation District recorded 10.2 inches of rain. The National Weather Service recorded 7.88 inches for the Hanford area. Compare those numbers to this year -- only 2.19 inches so far for Tulare and 1.71 for Hanford. Those numbers are far below what's considered normal for this time of year.

"We've only had one, we'd need another 7,8,9, 10 storms like this to really gain ground on what we've lost so far by a dry December and a dry first half of January, said Hendrix.

The dry winter has already caused Tulare farmer Doug Mederos to irrigate his wheat crop. "Last year most everything was getting drowned out we didn't have to worry about it. It was a good thing to have."

Mederos says this latest rainstorm has helped out his wheat, alfalfa and almond crops but he needs a lot more rain to prevent him from having to use the precious water from his well. "Everything helps it'll get some moisture in the ground and help with snow pack we're way behind and we've got a lot of catching up to do so anything we can get now is a benefit."

This last storm brought just about a half-inch to the South Valley, so several more inches are really needed to get water levels back on track.

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