Friant Kern Canal

Friant Water Authority

While a major “atmospheric river” storm system is expected to pummel Central California with historic amounts of rain and snow this weekend, there’s one place you won’t find floodwater: the Friant Kern Canal.

The Friant Water Authority says the 152 mile canal, that carries water from Millerton Lake on the San Joaquin River near Fresno all the way to Kern County has been shut down since late last year for maintenance and construction. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This past weekend’s summer-like temperatures mean the state’s already meager snowpack is quickly melting. And for much of the Central Sierra, those waters will eventually find their way into Millerton Lake, behind Friant Dam. But as FM89’s Ezra David Romero tells us in our series Voices of the Drought, managing those waters is a tough job, especially this year.

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Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Despite the rains of the past weekend, California’s drought is still a huge problem for communities up and down the state. While many towns in the Valley are bracing for the economic impact of the drought, and the resulting loss of farm jobs, the community of Orange Cove also has to contend with concerns about its water supply.

Mayor Gabriel Jimenez says that while the city has five municipal wells to draw water from the aquifer, they can't be used due to nitrate pollution.

"Now our wells are shutdown, we're 100 percent dependent of surface water," says Jimenez.