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Kaweah River Runoff 9 Percent Of Average – Record Low

May 29,2015
Lake To Deliver Irrigation Water Starting June 8

County Seeks Emergency Action to Dig New Wells

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 12.06.14 PMShort flows on the Kaweah and failing wells around the county are bringing the reality of the drought home to roost with a long hot summer still coming.

Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District (KDWCD) Operations Manager Victor Hernandez says farmers will start receiving water  released from Lake Kaweah beginning June 8 with a run on the St Johns starting June 10. River flows on the St Johns will be limited to about 3 weeks down only as far as Cutler Park, east of Visalia.

On the Kaweah the water run will last about a month until the water gives out – flowing as far as Hwy 198 and Linwood.

“We expect the reservoir to reach a peak storage of about 75,00 acre/ft this year” predicts Hernandez. The lake will hold 185,000 acre/ft. Last year the Kaweah supplied about 102,000af.

The state Department of Water Resources has estimated April to July runoff on the Kaweah at a record low 8 to 9 percent says Hernandez, less than half of the 1977 drought year when runoff was pegged at 22 percent of average,

Hernandez points to a bit of good news in the past few weeks when May storms visited the upper Kaweah increasing flows into the lake more than they had been. With little snowmelt coming down – the lake is getting over 300cfs inflows as opposed to half that in the weeks before.During a typical snowmelt we might expect 1000cfs inflows, he says.

The good news is the lake has been rising nearly 500af a day for May 21-29 although the late storms have now come and gone.

“The only reason the lake is as full as it is, is because we have had no winter releases this year.” Hernandez notes the runoff will go 100% for irrigation use to the water rights holders.

Kaweah Groundwater Drops

Meanwhile the ongoing drought – now in its 4th year – continues to impact groundwater levels in the Kaweah delta and across the county.

The latest KDWCD annual report says Kaweah Delta Conservation District wells dropped 16 ft in 2014.Their summary says ”many groundwater measurements were taken, but only the groundwater depths from well sites in each respective season of 2013 and 2014 were compared within the District. The spring 2014 average comparable depth to groundwater was approximately 136.6 ft., which reflected a groundwater level decline of 8.1 ft. from the prior year. The fall 2014 average comparable depth to groundwater was approximately 151.7 ft., which reflected a groundwater level decline of 7.9 ft. from the prior year.”

When KDWCD water levels were first measured  in 1970 the wells on average hit water at 60 ft.

Well Failures Hit E. Porterville/ Sequoia Field/ Mooney’s Grove

Across the county well failures have hit the hardest in rural east Porterville where there has been little Tule river flow for the past few years. Of the 1100 dry wells in the county – 750 of them have been in the E Porterville area.

This week the county said they were seeking a $1.2 million grant to sink a new well in  the city limits of Porterville that could supply this unincorporated area so hard hit by the lack of water.

Also this week the county said they would purchase  some land in Yettem to help supply the low income communities of Yettem and Seville with a new well.

Lastly,the county itself is having well failure issues of its own with three wells going dry at the Bob Wiley Detention facility that supplies 1700 people day. In addition, at Mooney Grove one of the wells has given out and trees are dying says a report. requiring an emergency resolution by the Board Of Supervisors this week to replace the well.

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