Friant Officials Prepare For What Could Be A Record Amount Of Snowmelt

Feb 28, 2017

The Sierra Nevada snowpack is so big this year that water managers are worried that one warm storm or a couple warm days could inundate reservoirs in the region. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports from Friant Dam.


There’s capacity for over 520,000 acre feet of water in Millerton Lake and at the moment it's about 82 percent full. That has water managers like Michael Jackson out of the Fresno Office for the US Bureau of Reclamation worried that once spring arrives the reservoir could spill over. He says he has a plan to avoid that.

“We’ll probably end up needing to draw it down to below 300,000 acre feet in order to make room for what’s shaping up to be a record snowpack and runoff year," Jackson says.


He says this is a big deal because typically there's around 2 million acre feet of runoff into the reservoir every year and this year that number could double.


“So 500,000 acre foot reservoir, 4 million in terms of the water year runoff so that’s eight times the storage of what there is if it were starting empty," says Jackson.


To remedy this Jackson says water is spewing out of Friant Dam into the San Joaquin River at about 10,000 cubic feet per second. He says that’s like 10,000 basketball's shooting out of the reservoir every second. A small amount is being released into the Friant-Kern Canal and Jackson says more can’t be released there because there’s nowhere for it to go.