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The Madera Tribune

Hopes for hanging on to El Nino rains

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webmaster | 09/08/12

The weather news is that a minor El Nino event in the South Pacific this year may mean more rain for the Central Valley over the rain season, which began July 1 and will run through June 30. If that happens, farmers and fishermen all will be glad. But it’s good local farmers and water planners have been taking conservation steps, because El Ninos don’t always come along when they should.

We’re already in a drought, and it will take a lot of rain to make up for the precipitation we missed over the last 12 months. If a lot of rain does come, some preparation is being made to hang on to some of it.

The city is digging out a large catch basin between Falcon Drive and the Madera Municipal Airport in hopes of capturing the rain that does fall. Maybe some of that stored rain will percolate into the aquifer from which the city draws its water.

The city and the Madera Irrigation District also have an agreement for Madera to buy irrigation water the MID can’t use. That big basin, which was the source of most of the dirt that went into the construction of the Ellis Street overcrossing, could contain some of that extra MID water.

Before long, the MID’s water bank will be taking on extra irrigation water, too. That water bank is said by geologists to have the capacity of about one half the amount that can be held by Millerton Lake behind Friant Dam. Millerton can hold about 550,000 acre feet. An acre foot is an amount of water one acre in area and one foot deep, about 326,000 gallons. That may seem like a lot of water, and it is, but cities and farms both require considerably more than 326,000 gallons per acre just to stay afloat, so to speak. Anything stored has to be extra.

Let’s hope El Nino rains show up as anticipated and are nice and juicy this winter.


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