Phil Deffenbaugh has been Lake Kaweah’s park manager since 1994. After telling about his early years with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Deffenbaugh furnished context for understanding where local water comes from and where it goes.
Phil explained that the USACE are simply custodians of the water. First right to the use and distribution of that water belongs to the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District. The USACE’s highest priority is flood control, and in exceptional years like this one, the policy and priorities can sometimes be at odds.
Deffenbaugh also explained that there is still lots of snow in the nearby mountains, which means snowmelt-fueled flows will continue for the next 60 days. During the warmest weather, the river flows will peak daily after midnight and average 2,500 to 3,000 cubic feet per second.
Phil discussed the fusegates at Terminus Dam, which are built to withstand a flood event of “biblical proportions.” He said it would take 185,000 cubic feet per second going over the spillway to topple Lake Kaweah’s six fusegates, and that event would unleash unprecedented destruction on properties below the dam.
Could that epic event ever happen?
“Only Mother Nature knows the answer to that question,” Deffenbaugh said.
There’s even more!
Click here to view part 2 of the interview.
Click here to view part 3 of the interview.
Video and video-editing by Ethan Paggi of Three Rivers.