By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
STRATHMORE – Eleven Strathmore homes were forced to evacuate last Friday after a plugged undershoot failed to redirect water from Frazier Creek to a holding pond near Highway 65.
Friant Water Authority communications manager Alexandra Biering issued a press release on Saturday assuring that flooding was not the result of overtopping or related to subsidence in the Friant-Kern Canal (FKC). Instead the homes located on Road 234 east of town nearest the canal were flooded because of failed drainage from Frazier Creek.
According to the press release, Frazier Creek in Strathmore flows downstream toward Highway 65 and Ave. 196. It then pools at the toe of the FKC. The release says the water is then pumped by two Tulare County pumps over the top of Ave. 196 bridge and sent downstream to a holding pond near Highway 65.
Before the pumps were installed, the creek would drain past the canal through other mechanisms, including some pathways called “undershoots”, that would allow the creek to flow under the canal into the flooding basin. But when housing development began Tulare County plugged the pathway, and then the pumps were installed.
“Our understanding is that one of those plugs failed on Friday night and allowed the water from Frazier Creek to flow through the undershoot and drain into what was historically a flood basin on the other side of the canal, but now included residences,” the release states.
The Friant Water Authority operations team worked with the County to help relieve pressure from excessive flows in the Strathmore area by pumping excess water into the Friant-Kern Canal and pumping over the canal downstream to the holding pond near Highway 65.