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Petition Asks Officials to Prevent Flooding in South Valley Communities



Highway 43, which connects towns from Hanford to Bakersfield, was flooded and closed in large sections during heavy March rains. (SJV Water/Lois Henry)
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Martín Chávez, who challenged for a seat on the Kings County Board of Supervisors last year, has organized a petition asking government officials to prevent flooding in a host of South Valley communities.

“This year will result in record-high amounts of water entering the Central Valley between Fresno and Bakersfield. Communities on the front line will first face the danger of this statewide issue, as the water is directed downstream out of stressed reservoirs,” wrote Chavez a resident of Stratford, in the petition’s introduction.

Requested Actions

“We ask that the government take immediate oversight and intervention of this emerging Lake through the following actions:

“1) Fully Flood the Historical (Tulare) Lake basin (starting at its lowest points); so as to alleviate upstream waterways (by immediately opening all the internal borders and man-made barriers). Filling the lake by sections is causing the weakening and overflow of waterways, due to pressure and is a greater threat.

“2) The immediate construction and reinforcement of levies/borders around the emerging lake to protect surrounding towns in case a break of existing levies occurs.”

Affected Towns

Chavez said that the following communities are at risk from flooding because of heavy rains and a potentially fast Sierra snowmelt: Stratford, Corcoran, Lemoore (Island District and West Hills Community College), Allensworth, and Alpaugh.

In addition, towns, homes, and businesses bordering the waterways that feed into the Tulare Lake basin are at risk, Chavez said.

Link to Petition

You can sign the petition at this link.

Reporting by SJV Water has revealed that the J.G. Boswell Company took steps to divert floodwater from its fields in the old lakebed and thereby put surrounding communities at risk.

The company’s explanation is that it was trying to flood higher ground around the lake to hold space for water from the South Fork of the Kings River out of fear the coming runoff would fill the lake and swamp the town of Corcoran.

Chavez is the farm relations director for Pacific Farm Management Inc. in Madera. Incumbent District 1 Supervisor Joe Neves defeated him in the November run-off, collecting 54% of the vote.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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