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To protect Pine Flat Dam from being overtopped, more water sent down Kings River

Water releases from Pine Flat Dam were ratcheted up this week as federal officials worked to prevent the reservoir from overtopping the dam.

Water flows from the eastern Fresno County dam reached 14,900 cubic feet person as of Thursday evening. .

But no additional releases will take place Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers told water users.

Tyler Stalker, spokesman for the Army Corps, said the releases were increased to make room for more water coming down from the rapidly melting snow in the Sierra.

“We will be making additional increases to help avoid overtopping the dam,” Stalker said Thursday. “At this time, we don’t anticipate that happening and we will adjust as necessary to avoid that.”

Pine Flat Lake can hold 1 million acre-feet of water and on Friday was at 99.4 percent of capacity.

But it appears that inflows into the lake peakedWednesday, said Randy McFarland, spokesman for the Kings River Water Association.

“Day-to-day flow figures have been dropping since then,” he said.

If inflows go up again over the weekend, the Corps could release more water, he said.

In a message to its member irrigation districts, the Kings River Water Association said Friday the flood releases will continue through June.

The Kings was not the only area river to be full to the banks.

The San Joaquin River was also moving swiftly. As a result, the National Weather Service issued flood advisories for both waterways. Locations along the San Joaquin River from Friant to Mendota are the most likely to experience minor flooding. Along the Kings River below Pine Flat, areas affected include Kingsburg, Grangeville, Reedley, Sanger and Minkler.

By Thursday afternoon, the rising river was filling low-lying areas that have not seen floodwaters in years.

There were reports of standing water at the Kings River Golf and Country Club in Kingsburg. Crews were expecting to use sandbags to protect parts of the golf course. There were also reports of flooding around Riverland, Club Royal Oak and Lindy’s Landing Campground and RV Park.

Crews from Kings County and the Kings River Conservation District responded to a small breach in a levee on the south fork of the Kings River between Grangeville and Highway 198.

No homes were threatened, said Kevin McAlister, Kings County public works director. The county was helping coordinate repair efforts with the conservation district, McAlister said.

The levee breach, a 40-foot-wide break, had flooded about 400 acres of alfalfa Thursday, said Cristel Tufenkjian, spokeswoman for the Kings River Conservation District. Work crews are hauling in dirt to fill the breach and are expected to finish Friday, she said.

Club Royal Oak had about a foot of standing water from the river, but no structures were affected, said Alan Degenhardt, president of Kasonno, the family business that owns the resort.

The resort had been nearly 90 percent booked for the month of June, he said. “There are a lot of people who are really disappointed and we’re disappointed too.”

But Degenhardt said: “Once the water drops, we rebuild and dry out and open.”

And the Flat Bottom Boogie, a boat show and race, is on for July 15, he said.

The Tulare County Fire Department, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, Resource Management Agency, and Office of Emergency Services said they are monitoring water levels in and around the Kings River. And they encouraged residents and visitors near the river to also keep an eye on water levels and media reports of additional water releases.

The Kings remains closed for all recreational activity until further notice. An American Red Cross shelter is open at Reedley High School for any residents who have been displaced by flooding.

County officials reminded the public to leave an area and call 911 if there is flooding that is endangering life and safety. And residents of Tulare County in danger of flooding can contact their Tulare County fire station for information on sand bags.

Barbara Anderson: 559-441-6310, @beehealthwriter

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