Turbine Bypass

When the Kings River Fisheries Management Program’s agreements were being considered in the 1990s, a big concern of anglers involved temperature of water released from Pine Flat Dam during low-flow periods with associated high ambient air temperatures. Those questions and worries have been largely eased or overcome through a crucial new facility, much greater operational flexibility, and years of data collection and observation.

Among the most useful tools provided to help the river’s fishery by better managing and conserving cold water supplies was completion in 2003 of a turbine bypass system at the Kings River Conservation District’s Jeff L. Taylor-Pine Flat Power Plant. The turbine bypass involves pipelines that intercept releases in the power plant penstocks before the water reaches the turbines, which cannot generate under various low storages and flows. Now, releases during the critical late season weeks are blended as needed through the turbine bypass, mid-level and low-level gates to achieve the best possible downstream temperature conditions, even under extreme air temperature conditions.

Another effective tool has been Pine Flat Reservoir’s Temperature Control Pool (TCP). The 100,000 acre-foot TCP was among the most important elements included in the 1999 agreement. It was created voluntarily by the 28 Kings River irrigation agencies and water companies that have rights to use Kings River water and manage their own storage in Pine Flat. They made available 12% of their storage to create the TCP and to help prolong the supply of colder water that remains in the reservoir to benefit the fishery below the dam.