Kings County extends drought emergency

KINGS COUNTY, Calif.

Citing minimal rainfall this winter and a dismal snow survey by the Department of Water Resources - supervisors voted to extend a local drought emergency in Kings County.

Kings Co. Fire Chief Bill Lynch said, "I think what the board of supervisors is doing is sending a message to Sacramento that the potential in Kings County is great for a wild land fire."

Kings County had declared a drought emergency from June 2007 to April of 2011. It was then terminated on the grounds that drought conditions continued, but no specific emergency existed requiring an immediate response.

When it was reinstated in March of this year the Sierra snowpack was 26-percent of normal. It's now at zero percent and officials are concerned about the county's current water supply and farmers who are struggling from the lack of rain.

Chief Administration Officer Colleen Carlson said, "And it allows us to support our farmers, apply for grants if there's a way to apply for grants or other programs that may assist them."

Another concern is an increase in fire danger.

Just Tuesday morning, Kings County Fire Chief Bill Lynch says the department responded to several fires on the westside. He says the season is just getting started and he's concerned about dry conditions creating worse or more frequent fires.

Fire Chief Bill Lynch told Action News, "We just had some spot fires along I5 that were vehicle related so be safe, be careful and know everything is dry."

Another concern is groundwater overdraft - where too much is being pumped out and not enough surface water is being added to replenish it. But supervisors say conditions could be worse.

Because of a wet winter in 2011 - Kings County does have some carry-over storage which will help some this summer.

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