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Area and History

District Service Area – The District flood control system is located in the north-central portion of Fresno County between the San Joaquin and Kings rivers. The District is authorized to control storm waters within an urban and rural foothill watershed of approximately 400 square miles, known as the Fresno County Stream Group. The watershed extends eastward into the Sierra Nevada to an elevation of approximately 4,500 feet above sea level. The District service area includes most of the Fresno-Clovis metropolitan area, and unincorporated lands to the east and northeast.

For the purposes of program planning, structure, service delivery, and financing, a distinction is made between flood control and local drainage services. The flood control program relates to the control, containment, and safe disposal of storm waters that flow onto the valley floor from the eastern streams. The local drainage program relates to the collection and safe disposal of storm water runoff generated within the urban and rural watersheds or “drainage areas.” All are closely integrated and coordinated to provide efficient, comprehensive services. Collectively, these facilities comprise the “Storm Drainage and Flood Control Master Plan.”

A Little History

An interesting report on the history of water ownership in the Fresno area is available here. ‘Water and the rise of public ownership on the Fresno plain, 1850 to 1978’ is a report written by Todd A. Shallat for the City of Fresno Public Works Department in 1978.

The photos below illustrate our community’s need for protection from flood waters. Before construction of the flood control and urban drainage system, scenes like these were all too common in the Fresno-Clovis area.

downtown fresno in 1925
Downtown Fresno, 1925
This business and many others were routinely damaged by flood waters in the years before a planned urban storm drainage system. Downtown Fresno has experienced numerous floods since its beginning as Fresno Station in 1872.
hammond avenue east of dry creek canal in 1958
Hammond Avenue, east of Dry Creek Canal, March 23, 1958
Residents and law enforcement work together to shore up the canal bank after it is overwhelmed by stormwater rushing in from the foothills to the east. The Fancher Creek and Big Dry Creek Reservoirs were constructed in the early 1990s to alleviate flooding.
north of ventura and west of first in 1969
North of Ventura, west of First, 1969
Looking west on Gilbert Avenue shows the impact of flooding on activities as basic as travel. Since its creation by voters in 1956, the District has planned and continues constructing flood control infrastructure throughout the Fresno/Clovis metro area.
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