Sheriff Closes Lower Kings River to Public in Fresno County
Citing the high flows of cold water released from Pine Flat Dam, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims closed the lower Kings River early Tuesday afternoon.
Fresno County joined Tulare County and Kings County which previously ended recreational use of the lower river until the high waters recede.
Pine Flat Releasing Large Amount of Water
With the Sierra’s massive snowpack quickly melting as temperature rise, Pine Flat is taking in about 10,000 cubic feet of water per second while releasing the same amount from the lake into the river channel.
One cubic foot per second equals 7.5 gallons of water — about 646,000 gallons per day.
As the snowpack continues to melt, the runoff could cause flooding.
What looks like a refreshing swim could turn dangerous. The Kings River is in flood release – water from snowmelt is cold and fast! https://t.co/aAy4VQnb18 pic.twitter.com/4wKYlQRchT
— Kings River CD (@kingsrivercd) June 4, 2019
Cold Water Causes Hypothermia
This situation, when combined with the cold water, creates many potential dangers for boaters, kayakers, swimmers and others. The river temperature is about 52 degrees, cold enough to cause hypothermia.
In a news release, the sheriff’s office said it would strictly enforce the closure and violators would be subject to a $225 fine.
The upper portion of the Kings River above Pine Flat Dam remains open.
“Once deemed safe, access to the river will be reopened to the public,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
Mims last closed the Kings from May 24 to July 17 in 2017.