Officials watching Kings River closely as temperatures rise and bring snowmelt

Experts say the current conditions are what they anticipated, but they will increase water flow in the coming days if needed.

Jason Oliveira Image
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Officials watching Kings River closely as temperatures rise and bring snowmelt
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Another hot day across Central California has experts closely monitoring water levels from the Sierra Nevada to the Valley floor.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The melting of California's historic snowpack is beginning to ramp up in the Sierra Nevada, causing some concerns among engineers working to maintain a smooth operation of the water flows along the Kings River.

"As far as the warm-up this week, yes, it's going to cause snowmelt and we'll likely see a record peak," says Watermaster Steve Haugen.

While experts will continue to monitor watersheds, Haugen says Pine Flat Reservoir is currently at about 33 percent capacity and in great shape to handle the anticipated snowmelt runoff.

"We also have about 150,000 acre-feet of vacant space in reservoirs up above, so combined, there's a little more than 800,000 acre-feet of empty space," he said. "We have a large empty bucket as we go into this heatwave."

The Kings River Water Association and the Army Corps of Engineers have been preparing for this type of scenario with water releases over the past two months.

"Anticipation is the flows that we have coming out are probably sufficient," Haugen said. "There may be some small additional increases depending on what this looks like in the next couple of days."

Experts say California's historic snowpack can carry us well into the Summer.

With flood release flows above normal irrigation, demands will be met into late July and potentially August.

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