Local

Low water on Kings River for Memorial Day

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The water level in the Kings River is lower than usual for this time of year.

Randy McFarland of the Kings County Water Association tells Action News, "We've had a winter that is below average, much below average."

The dry winter reduced the water supply to just half of normal. Farmers are expected to get by because of water stored behind the dam from last year's extremely wet year. But low water means a later start to the summer recreation season.

The Tulare County Sheriff's Department is on patrol and enforcing safe boating restrictions. Deputy Marcel Campos says the water is too low for the patrol boat, so he is driving his patrol car, warning campers along the river. "Due to the shallowness of the water, the depth, the sandbars, just for the general safety of the boaters and the people on watercraft."

A five mile an hour speed limit is in place in the river through Tulare County. But with water this low, traffic on the river isn't expected to be heavy. Gina Brown and her family come here every year. They are a little disappointed about the river. "Only because there's not much water and we can't put our boat in so we're a little bummed but we're still going to have a good time."

In addition to the low water, construction on a bridge over Highway 99 near Kingsburg is cutting off access to parts of the river.

Further upstream, the removal of metal pilings under the Goodfellow Bridge is keeping a six mile section closed to rafters and floaters. But, things are expected to get better.

McFarland says normal releases from Pine Flat Dam are set to begin on June 1st. "And so there will be a big increase in the flow of the Kings River below Pine Flat Dam, and then it will take a day or two for it to make its way downstream."

Resorts and recreation spots along the river are expecting a slower start to summer, but Gina Brown says, "We're having a great time. We come here every year and we're having a great time."

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kings river, local, gene haagenson
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