Fresno County officials concerned about bleak water outlook

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- As we draw closer to the end of rainy season, experts are forecasting a bleak outlook and another historically dry year.

The Kings River is picture perfect this time of year. But looking at the same spot from farther away the low water levels can clearly be seen.

"We are on par with the driest two years on record. Out of 120 years on record this would match 1977 and 1924," said Steve Haugen, Kings River Water Association.

Haugen said to understand why we're getting so little running through local rivers, you have to travel upstream to Pine Flat Dam. The reservoir is fed by snow melt from the Sierra, and because of the lack of fresh powder in 2015, only a quarter of the average snow melt is expected to trickle downstream .

"Last year we had about 400 thousand acre feet of runoff during this April-July period. This year they are forecasting about 300 thousand acre feet of water during that time. So we are 100 thousand acre feet less," said Haugen.

The reduced supply is expected to impact everyone in the City of Fresno who draws service water from both Pine Flat and Millerton Lake.

"We have been told by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that right now zero percent of allocation from Millerton Lake is what we need to be thinking about -- and we are praying for more rain and snow," said Tommy Esqueda, Director of Public Utilities.

Esqueda says the historically low supply from reservoirs will hurt the city's ground water bank. "Last year we lost 4 feet on our ground water aquifer. If this year is like last year we could probably lose another four feet -- and if we lose another four feet we will lose the use about 20 to 40 wells because the water just gets below the pumps."

City workers now have to take extra steps to purify our supply to ensure the water is safe to use. null
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