Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

As of this week, the Kaweah River is meeting Lake Kaweah at the Holiday Falls area, west of the Slick Rock Recreation Area and boat ramp. (Click arrows for additional photos.)OAK AFLOAT: Lake Kaweah’s shoreline is receding in the 
upper basin, creating a swamp-like setting that is a haven for waterfowl and fish.A view of the easternmost portion of the Lake Kaweah reservoir.Lake Kaweah’s shoreline is receding in the 
upper basin, creating a swamp-like setting that is a haven for waterfowl and fish.

Lake Kaweah nears peak fill

John Elliott


With the first extended run of triple digits for 2017 forecast for this week, and all that snow still melting in the high elevations, there will be lots of water coming down the Kaweah drainage, but Lake Kaweah will not fill to capacity this year. 
“It’s a little disappointing because it’s wonderful to see a full basin but it’s just not coming down fast enough,” said Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah general manager. “Those cold nights in the high country made the inflows rise and fall and were difficult to predict.”
But there’s a silver lining, Phil said.
“When the lake is full, recreation becomes a problem because so many of the facilities are underwater,” Phil said. “We would have lots of water but little access.”
This year, he continued, the ellake’s elevation level will go up from its current 702 feet above sea level to about 707 or 708 feet. The fill level at the spillway is 715.
“At the top end, it takes a whole lot of water to make a big difference,” Phil said. “It’s great to see all that water, and this year we will have it a lot longer than any of the past years since the basin was enlarged in 2004.”
Normally by the Fourth of July, the lake is in serious drain-down. This year, thanks to that monster snowpack, this won’t happen until August. During the July 4 holiday period, there will only be six to 10 campsites open but they will never all disappear. The remaining sites will be accessible via walk-in or boat-in.
As of Thursday, June 15, the lake elevation level was 702 feet with storage of 158, 507 acre feet (capacity is 185,500). The mean inflow was 2,040 cubic feet per second; 2,257 cfs was being released. 
That means for the last few days this week the lake level has been going down. In the next few days, however, during the heat wave, the lake will start back up once again.
“I don’t anticipate flows to be much more than 3,000 cfs,” Phil said. “And the storage should top out around 169,000 acre feet. The elevation might make another five or six feet.”