After making a decision to open one of three controlled spillway gates at Don Pedro Reservoir for the first time in 20 years on Monday, Turlock Irrigation District announced Thursday that they are looking to create even more space in the reservoir to accommodate what officials have deemed as the Tuolumne River Watershed’s wettest year in recorded history.
On Thursday, TID was still waiting for a response from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a deviation to maintain releases of approximately 16,000 cubic feet per second until Don Pedro Reservoir is lowered to 815 feet. Based on current weather forecasts and inflows, TID said that this process could take anywhere from eight to 10 days. Don Pedro elevation as of 10 a.m. Thursday was 829.5 feet.
“TID would rather continue flows at this current level and lower the reservoir as much as possible as opposed to having to close spillway gates immediately and then risk a higher chance of opening them repeatedly over the next few weeks and months,” said TID Incident Commander Jason Hicks on Tuesday.
Hicks said that a decision was made in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin spilling at 3 p.m. Monday, before the reservoir reached its maximum capacity of 830 feet. While initial water releases to the Tuolumne River began at 18,000 cfs and were projected to possibly reach 30,000 cfs, the release was decreased to 16,000 cfs by Tuesday morning. On Thursday, TID said that releases will continue at this rate for most of the day and the Tuolumne River at 9th Street in Modesto was at approximately 58.64 feet.
Out of an abundance of caution and in the interest of public and electrical safety near the Tuolumne River, TID de-energized about 975 electrical services beginning at 10 a.m. Monday along the river in conjunction with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.
By Tuesday morning, line crews were out along the river where flows stabilized to assess locations and possibly restore services that were affected. TID said that this process is ongoing and will continue until all customers have been safely restored. As of 10 a.m. Thursday, TID restored power to 919 customers.
Those who had their property affected by these outages can check if they have been restored by calling TID’s customer service line at 883-8300. More information on scheduled outages is available at tid.org/RiverOutage.
TID added Thursday that Bonds Flat Road remains closed beyond Fleming Meadows and Blue Oaks campgrounds to ensure the safety of public and spillway operations. Don Pedro Lake is also closed to boaters during the use of spillway gates.
Also on Thursday, the Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services issued a warning about the risks associated with activities on flooded waterways. Boaters, kayakers and canoeists are advised to stay off floodwaters as it can result in dangerous and deadly consequences.
SCOES said that rising water levels have submerged previously visible hazards such as trees and stumps. This paired with increased water flows create various safety risks that can make steering more difficult or paddling more tiring. Debris that is being washed downstream can also be large enough to damage or overturn vessels or affect the ability to maneuver around dangerous areas.
For the most up-to-date information about increased river levels, visit tid.org/flows.