It has been over one year since the largest fire in Sierra Nevada history claimed over 400 square feet of land over in the Tuolumne River Basin, and although the fire was declared fully contained in October, the community is still experiencing the effects of the devastating wildfire.
Locally, the Turlock Irrigation District is doing its part to mitigate the consequences of the Rim Fire on the Tuolumne River watershed in the Don Pedro Reservoir.
“With respect to that burn area, we haven’t really done anything because we’re in a weird position where we don’t have any authority as an agency,” said Jason Carkeet, utility analysis for TID. “However with Don Pedro, we own property there, that’s our reservoir and we operate it.”
In order to protect the Valley from the consequences of the fire, TID has put together an incident action plan, which details what actions to take in the presence of certain triggers. One of the measures included in the report is the district’s staged deployment of a boom at the Don Pedro Reservoir.
“We have three points along the upper end of the reservoir where the boom is staged and ready for deployment,” said Carkeet. “We are prepared with the boom to collect woody debris and make sure it is not a hazard for boaters and anybody out there.”
The boom, when deployed, will control floating debris, such as trees, leaves, and sticks that resulted from the burn area. Made up of large plastic orange segments, the boom will be implemented in the event of a large storm in order to mitigate the amount of debris that will be washed into the reservoir.
However due to the drought, the boom has not been deemed necessary yet because a lot of floatable debris has not been coming into the reservoir. Nonetheless, TID is ready to deploy the boom at any time to minimize impacts of runoff into the lower reaches of the reservoir.
“The effect is we don’t know what’s going to happen when we do get a lot of rain and snow and how much water and debris is going to come down,” said TID spokesperson Calvin Curtin. “However, when it does we will be prepared with boom.”