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Late Rain Bumps Kaweah Water Supply / Hope Builds For Friant Water

May 10,2013

Tulare County was state's wet spot in early May

Tulare County was state’s wet spot in early May

It did not rain much the past few days in Visalia but in the mountains of the Kaweah watershed they got almost an inch of precip at several locations that is helping to bump up the total inflow expected to run into Kaweah Lake this water-year.

Already the late storms in April added 18% more water than expected before the April 25 event notes the Kaweah River Page website, increasing the expected lake inflow from what would be a record low 84,000 acre ft to 99,000 acre ft.

The late season wet weather “increased our estimate of the water that will be available by about 1%” says Mark Larsen, general manager of of Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District (KDWCD).

Larsen estimates the bump up increased water supply coming out of Terminus from 22% of average to 23%.”It’s not much but every little bit helps.”

The late storm of April 25 dropped 1.43 in of rain at one Three Rivers measuring station says the Kaweah River Page.  That amounts to some 15.5% of all the precipitation that had fell since October, 9.25 inches.

That is the increase from the late April events and in May the Kaweah watershed has been receiving more wet stuff.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 4.38.06 PMHere is a 7 day precip map of the state during the last week showing Fresno and Tulare Counties getting almost an inch of water up from the Valley floor. The map appears to show we were the wet spot in the state this past week.Inflow into Kaweah Lake peaked May 3 and warm weather is melting any snow left, fast.The May rains will likely boost inflow into the reservoir to over 100,000 acre ft this water-year, insuring 2014 will at least beat out the 76/77’ dry year, when runoff was a record low 96,000 acre ft (see chart).
Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 6.13.11 PMIn an average year the Kaweah will deliver more like 500,000 acre ft with a 1.4 million yield in a very wet 1982/83.Larsen says local water districts this year will not take Kaweah water until early June when the irrigation season will begin a shortened run.Instead,most growers will pump groundwater to survive.Larsen says he expects the state to implement new groundwater rules “this year”,  but says he hopes there will still be some “local control.” He expects KDWCD to have an oversight role.

( chart: click to enlarge)

Some Optimism At Friant

Still up in the air this week- will Friant Water Authority get any water this year? Some Tulare County farmers who do not have groundwater sure hope so.

On Friday Friant’s General Manager Ron Jacobsma says the Bureau of Reclamation ”is doing some modeling that would indicate there may be enough water in Shasta for the Exchange Contractors” and if that pans out – Friant will get to use water above Friant Dam and the big canal will run. The big federal district includes a dozen or so districts in Tulare County now slated to get no supply- zero allocation – from the Friant Kern Canal this year.

“The Exchange Contractors were to start taking Friant water Friday but they postponed that until Wednesday” (May 14) to see if delivery of their contracted amount,some 300,000 acre feet, can be supplied from Northern California as everybody hopes. More rain in Northern California in the past 2 weeks continues to boost water supply there.

Fish agencies want to retain more water in Lake Shasta for cold water release for fish this summer.

Captions: May 9 NOAA weather map shows recent 7-day precip

1976/77 saw just 95,000 acre ft delivered from Terminus

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