Looking east toward the hazy mountains from the Greenwood bridge. The usually empty canal at this time of year is full with swift running water.

Weeks of storm activity and increasing spring runoff prospects prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin a small Kings River flood release from Pine Flat Dam last week. 

Kings River Watermaster Steve Haugen said the Corps made the decision based upon the most recent department of water resources runoff forecast, high recent flows into Pine Flat Reservoir and overall storage beginning to encroach into space reserved for flood management.

The Kings River Water Association’s assistant watermaster, Matt Meadows, said flood release amounts will initially be relatively low, although KRWA’s 28 member agencies with Kings River entitlements are expected to begin taking advantage of water made available as a result of the situation.

All Kings River units should have water available if they wish to use it, said Haugen. It is the first Kings River flood release in two years.

Under flood release conditions, member units generally can take as much water as they wish. 

The KRWA anticipates releases from Pine Flat will probably increase to 4,500-5,000 c.f.s. over the next week as canal systems are filled and reach full operation.

“This is a perfectly normal response by the Corps of Engineers to what is turning out to be an above-average water year,” Haugen said. “Flows occurring along the Kings River will be similar to ordinary summer water conditions.”

However, Haugen said, anglers and others along the river “need to be aware of higher water conditions and exercise caution along all riverbanks.” Flows will be well within channel capacities, he added.

Meadows said the flood release is likely to “last a minimum of 3-4 weeks with potential to last into summer. Duration is highly dependent upon future weather conditions. Releases will continue to be adjusted accordingly to meet irrigation orders and changing conditions.”

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