The Poso Creek took control of a days-long stand off between the powerful J.G. Boswell Company and the tiny Deer Creek Storm Water District, when it busted through berms along Dairy Avenue, rushed over the road and dropped off of a bridge into Boswell’s Homeland Canal.
The water is now rushing into the canal and the bridge is swamped, blocking yet another road out of the Tulare Lake basin.
“It was totally uncalled for,” said Jack Mitchell, head of the Deer Creek Storm Water District of how the Poso Creek drama played out. Had he been allowed to put Poso water into the Homeland in a controlled manner from the start, it wouldn’t have bunched up and burst across the bridge.
But Boswell blocked Poso water from coming into the Homeland by putting heavy equipment on the canal bank where the Poso channel ends. Mitchell received several threats of arrest if he cut into the Homeland to relieve building pressure from the creek, which had swelled to massive size after the March 10 storm brought drenching rain and snowmelt.
It was a stark sight: Vast sections of flooded land to the south and miles of dry Boswell land to the north, bisected by the Homeland Canal.
A Boswell Company representative did not return phone calls seeking comment. The Kings County public information officer did not respond to an email Friday asking about the Dairy Avenue bridge closure.
Instead of cutting into the Homeland, Mitchell made cuts on the Poso channel farther back from the Homeland Canal, flooding thousands of acres of pasture to the south. His fear was the water would eventually move east and flood out the small towns of Alpaugh and Allensworth.
As news of the potential threat to residents spread, Boswell put three large siphons on the Homeland to move some Poso water into the canal. It wasn’t nearly enough.
The creek kept rising and pushing against the Homeland.
“That water wants to go north,” Mitchell said of the old Tulare Lake bed, the San Joaquin Valley’s low spot and destination for most of the region’s rivers and streams.
Thursday night the Poso busted through berms Boswell crews had built to contain it on land just to the west of where the heavy equipment still sits on the Homeland Canal.
Now, Mitchell is working to keep the 10,000 acre feet he’s been stowing on different pastures from rushing north and overwhelming the Homeland Canal.
“That water was just shooting across the road and all waterfalls at the bridge into the canal,” Mitchell said. “It was deafening.”