Water released into Kings River ahead of holiday weekend

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Kings River water release brings a big heat relief for the Fourth of July and it's a welcome sight for both farmers and canal companies.

The water was released around midnight on July 3rd. It takes hours, and days to slowly backfill the sand here. While it might be just in time for Fourth of July, it brings a lot of hidden dangers for river goers.

The Gutierrez family is watching the water slowly rise at Reedley beach and questioning why the water isn't clean. Delia Gutierrez says she and her family work hard to conserve water. They know every drop is precious. That sentiment couldn't hold more true for the Kings River Water Association.

Randy McFarland says, "This is the driest year in Kings River history."

In fact, it's never been this low. It's at 19% of its normal runoff. The last time it was around that percentage was during the drought of 1924.

McFarland says while it might seem perfect for Fourth of July fun, the release has much more to do with money. The draw off of it is similar to a bank account. "When a district or canal company goes through their water than they have to stop."

28 agencies draw off of this water. For them, it's a welcome sight, even though it'll run dry after about 40 days. "Any time we can turn off pumps and save groundwater by using surface water is a real benefit to the environment and to everybody."

But this stream, which will slowly turn into a full river, comes with serious warnings. It's cold, dirty, and full of debris. "The water will take your breath away when you get into it.. its that cold and there's always currents and such river safety is a real concern for all of us."

And its a flow that the Gutierrez family will happily watch from the sand. "I don't think we'd go in there even if it was clean."

The water here is like a slow moving barge and it still has a long way to go. It'll be about three days before it stops just south of Riverdale. null
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