Irrigation District starts sandbagging Lake Success Spillway after Corps approves request

TULARE COUNTY (KFSN) -- After months of consideration, officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have granted a request from a South Valley water district, asking for Lake Success' spillway to be sandbagged, to prevent flooding and store water for irrigation purposes.

The lake is less than one foot away from being full, and water is moving closer to the spillway seal.

The Lower Tule River Irrigation District, aided by inmate fire crews, are in the middle of building a barrier along the spillway.

The work started after the district's request to sandbag it was approved last Friday. It will increase the lake's storage capacity by about 10 percent.

"So the lake when it's full at this spillway seal level-the elevation is 652.50 (feet), and the storage is 82,300 (acre-feet), so the extra four feet above that will give us 10 more thousand acre foot in storage, preventing that water from going downstream," said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Operations Manager Calvin Foster. "The original intent was to prevent flooding."

Foster says the spillway has only been sandbagged four times before: 1966, 1969, 1982, and most recently in 1998. All years, including this one, have something in common.

"Very wet years when we've had the water supply in the mountains in the snowpack that could potentially have flooding occurring on (agricultural) lands downstream," Foster said.

The district is currently using water from San Joaquin River. The stored water from Lake Success will be delivered to their 500 farmers during peak irrigation season, later this summer.

After that, the sandbags will be removed and the road into Rocky Hill Recreation Area will be rebuilt. Until then, that area will be closed, and visitors may come across other closed areas around the lake.

"That will provide for additional recreation benefits, additional surcharging and percolation on the eastern side of the delivery area and make for better use of the water," Foster said.

Foster expects the sandbagging to be finished by next week.
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