EBMUD re­leases from Ca­manche to off­set snow melt

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Front Page - By Danielle Vaughn

In an ef­fort to off­set the rapidly melt­ing snow pack, the East Bay Mu­nic­i­pal Util­ity Dis­trict is re­leas­ing wa­ter from the Ca­manche Dam.

The dis­trict has been re­leas­ing ad­di­tional wa­ter from the dam for a cou­ple of days now, said Nelsy Ro­driguez, EBMUD pub­lic af­fairs rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

As of Thurs­day, EBMUD was re­leas­ing at a rate 2,530 cu­bic feet per sec­ond, she said.

“We’ve got a lot of snow that is melt­ing right now,” she said. “In March, it was re­ported that the wa­ter con­tent in the snow in Cal­i­for­nia’s snow pack was at 185 per­cent of av­er­age.”

The re­lease will cause river lev­els to rise and wa­ter to move at a faster rate.

Wood­bridge Dam is pre­pared to ac­com­mo­date the high wa­ter lev­els, said Andy Chris­tensen, man­ager of the Wood­bridge Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict.

“Our dam ad­justs au­to­mat­i­cally and we’ll be able to main­tain a sta­ble lake el­e­va­tion here,” he said.

How­ever, flows are get­ting high enough that grow­ers along the Mokelumne River may be flooded again, he added.

The Ca­manche Dam is a flood con­trol dam and its main pur­pose is to pre­vent flood­ing, Ro­driguez said.

“With­out the Ca­manche Dam there, those prop­er­ties would be flooded all the time be­cause there would be noth­ing hold­ing back the tremen­dous amount of wa­ter that is com­ing off of the moun­tains,” she said. “I know it’s a hard­ship for prop­erty own­ers in the area, so we do our best to let them know when we make these re­leases. With­out the dam and the co­or­di­nated sched­uled re­leases, those prop­er­ties would be flooded reg­u­larly.”

Prop­erty own­ers along the river re­ceive an au­to­matic phone mes­sage from EBMUD and other wa­ter dis­tricts re­leas­ing around the river to let them know how much wa­ter they will be re­leas­ing, Ro­driguez said.

“This is some­thing that they deal with ev­ery sum­mer,” she said. “In the sum­mer the win­ter snow melts, and that’s how we re­fill our reser­voirs, so this is some­thing that they are aware of.”

With the higher lev­els, Chris­tensen ad­vises peo­ple to use ex­treme cau­tion when on the river. Kayak­ers and oth­ers on the river should stay away from Wood­bridge Dam be­cause the ve­loc­i­ties are higher there, he said.

Ev­ery­one on the river should wear a life jacket at all times, Wood­bridge Fire Dis­trict Chief Steve But­ler warned.

“Any­body who’s go­ing to be in the wa­ter needs to have their life jack­ets on. I cant’s stress that enough,” But­ler said.

Al­co­hol con­sump­tion and not wear­ing a life jacket are the two main fac­tors that con­trib­ute to drown­ing, he said.

Luck­ily, the salmon that grow up and lay eggs in the river won’t be af­fected by the high wa­ters. It might help them move along bet­ter, Chris­tensen said.

He an­tic­i­pates the river lev­els will go back down soon.

“Within two weeks or so they’ll prob­a­bly be com­ing back down again,” he said. “I have no con­trol of when they’ll be com­ing down. I’m just guess­ing af­ter two weeks things are go­ing to be look­ing a lot dif­fer­ent.”

The cur­rent re­lease from Ca­manche is smaller than re­leases ear­lier this year, Ro­driguez said. Dur­ing the win­ter months, EBMUD re­leas­ing 5,000 cu­bic feet per sec­ond.

“We’re just com­ing out of a drought so com­pared to last year it’s much more wa­ter,” Ro­driguez said.

At this time last year, EBMUD’s to­tal sys­tem stor­age was 662,000 acre-feet. This year, the sys­tem is at 738,000 acre feet.

“We do have more wa­ter in stor­age be­cause we’re com­ing out of a drought and we had the wettest win­ter in Cal­i­for­nia his­tory. We are now mov­ing the wa­ter that has been stored in the snow on our moun­tains into the reser­voir and down­stream so that other wa­ter dis­tricts that pull from the Mokelumne River can pull their wa­ter, and so that we can con­tinue to feed the rivers for the ecosys­tem’s health.”

This year high­lights the ex­treme shifts in weather that are com­mon in the state, she said.

“We have had the long­est drought in Cal­i­for­nia his­tory, fol­lowed by the wettest win­ter in re­ported Cal­i­for­nia his­tory, so we went from one ex­treme to the other,” she said.

BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SEN­TINEL

Wa­ter churns at Wood­bridge Dam in Wood­bridge on Thurs­day.

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