While a major “atmospheric river” storm system is expected to pummel Central California with historic amounts of rain and snow this weekend, there’s one place you won’t find floodwater: the Friant Kern Canal.
The Friant Water Authority says the 152 mile canal, that carries water from Millerton Lake on the San Joaquin River near Fresno all the way to Kern County has been shut down since late last year for maintenance and construction.
Part of the work involves removing an invasive weed species that is clogging portions of the waterway. The City of Fresno is also working inside the canal to connect its new pipeline. Alexandra Biering is with the Friant Water Authority.
Biering: “They were originally intending to be out in the canal until the 15th of January but they’ve really fast tracked and pushed forward a lot their maintenance work so they’re going to be done on Monday. We’re expecting to have people out of the canal mid-day Monday.”
Biering says once that’s completed the canal will be ready to accept some of the water that’s expected to fill Millerton Lake from the impending storm.
Biering: “Throughout the Friant Division there are regional groundwater projects and folks who have been waiting for a year like this so that we can have those additional flood flows and they could use that water since it’s available to recharge their groundwater supplies.”
For now the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has significantly increased releases into the San Joaquin River, in order to avoid a potential release from the dam’s spillway following the storm. Millerton Lake is currently 73 percent full.