Thursday April 27, 2023

San Francisco Chronicle

Tulare Lake, the long dormant lake that made a surprise comeback in California’s San Joaquin Valley this year, has gotten so big with the wet weather that water experts say it won’t drain until at least next year, and maybe well after that.

More than 100 square miles of roads, farms and homes in the formerly dry lake bed between Fresno and Bakersfield remain submerged in the entrenched floodwaters. Additional land is expected to go under through summer as record Sierra Nevada snow melts into rivers that fill the lake. Already, damages are in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

While landowners as well as local, state and federal officials are focused on keeping major towns and infrastructure dry, the broader issue of whether there’s a better way to manage water in the basin looms. Some say the recent flooding is making the case to more naturally accommodate incoming water, perhaps broadening river plains, restoring old wetlands and, more dramatically, ensuring a permanent revival of Tulare Lake.

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