South Valley communities battle flooding as storms continue

Cut levees – both authorized and illegal – are sending stormwater across the southern San Joaquin Valley.

Two communities in Tulare County are currently flooded with several inches of water due to levee breaks caused by the pressure built up from the immense rains that have battered the Central Valley. 

Meanwhile, in Kings County, designed and illegal levee cuts have taken place, resulting in the old Tulare Lake starting to re-form. 


The big picture: Over the weekend, the Kings County Board of Supervisors voted to cut a levee to relieve pressure on the Tule River, resulting in planned flooding of the old Tulare Lakebed. 

  • The old Tulare Lake was drained over 100 years ago and now houses farmland along much of the southwest side of the Central Valley. 

Driving the news: According to a report from SJV Water, the levee cut was on land owned by the J.G. Boswell Company. That decision flooded the fringes of where the lake used to be, rather than cutting the lake bottom levee and flooding the historic lake center. 

  • SJV Water also reported that despite the action from the Kings County Board of Supervisors, someone illegally cut the banks of Deer Creek, which caused water to head towards Allensworth. 
  • Corcoran set up its own protection along its westside levee with armed patrol. 

Go deeper: Deer Creek Storm Water District head Jack Mitchell has been working nonstop to move flood water from the Poso and Deer Creeks and White River while trying to keep the flooding away from homes and businesses. 

  • SJV Water reported that he received a call from someone representing the Kings County Board of Supervisors threatening to arrest him if he cut into the Homeland Canal. 
  • Ultimately Boswell cut the Poso Creek channel southeast of the Homeland canal to provide some flood relief. 

State of play: Tulare County communities Allensworth and Aplaugh are currently flooded with several inches of water after the immense water pressure caused levees to break. 

What they’re saying: Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said Tuesday that the county is working to repair the multiple levee breaks. 

  • Boudreaux said that the levees are also being reinforced as more rainfall is on the way. 
  • “Important to reiterate to the public that if there’s a road closed sign, don’t circumvent it and go around that roadside,” Boudreaux said. “You may not see the flooding, but it doesn’t mean the ground underneath is stable.” 
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