Water released from Friant Dam to make way for more rain

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Saturday, January 7, 2023
Water released from Friant Dam to make way for more rain
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Water releases began earlier this week from Friant Dam to make way for more rain as unsettled weather is expected for at least the next seven days.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Water releases began earlier this week from Friant Dam to make way for more rain as unsettled weather is expected for at least the next seven days.

Millerton Lake water levels continue to rise, and there is concern that local parks and roads can see flooding.

Nearing capacity, Millerton Lake continues to provide increased water flow after a series of storms, and conservation levels are seeing the effects too.

"Currently, we have a little bit over 400,000 acre-feet in the reservoir. It has a capacity of about 520,000 acre-feet, so we're about 78%, maybe almost 80% full, explained Michael Jackson, Area Manager with Bureau of Reclamation.

The water capacity at Friant Dam is considered small compared to the yearly average runoff, typically 1.3 million acre-feet, so the idea is to make way for the expected water.

"We're trying to outguess mother nature on what is coming and what we can expect," added Jackson.

"I'm used to this, and I've seen this river do crazy stuff, and it's nice to get that flow, you know? There's a salmon population here now that they've established, and this is nothing but good for that," said Jim Durando, Friant Resident

Having lived in the area his whole life, Jim is not concerned about water levels just yet, saying it's just too early to tell.

"It's a La Nina year, and La Nina is kind of like a crap shoot because it could be what it's doing now, or it could be dry," added Durando.

Officials are concerned that warmer rain may fall on recently fallen snow - accelerating the runoff. The impacts can be overbearing.

"Now whatever snow you were hoping might not come between the April through July classic runoff period in California now may be coming over a few days or a few weeks," said Jackson.