Water levels at Turlock Lake are the lowest they have been in 10 years and for once the ongoing drought is not to blame. Rather, Turlock Irrigation District has intentionally dropped water levels by over 10,000 acre feet in order to carefully inspect the lake’s control structure and power house.
“This inspection is just good protocol,” said chief dam safety engineer Peggy Ann Harding. “It is just like taking a car in for service.”
Once this year’s irrigation season came to a close, TID lowered the water level of the lake to 4,500 AF for the inspection project. According to Harding, the reason the district drops water levels down during the project is to retain the lake while staff carries out necessary inspection procedures.
With water levels drawn down to 4,500 AF, the district went in and constructed two cofferdams to help dewater the canal. Without water in the way, TID staff is able to go in and check the lake’s control structure and power house for rust or detrimental wear in equipment.
“It is just so much easier to check the power house and control structure if you can just walk up to it,” said Harding. “If we did not dewater the canal, we would have to dive down there and it is not always clear.”
For this particular inspection, Harding stated that the water district has only had to make minor repairs. However, TID has a maintenance plan to ensure that everything is working the way it should.
“It looks pretty old, but it is structurally sound,” reported Harding. “TID is very good with maintenance.”
Overall, the inspection project is slated to take up to six weeks, with the water district planning to go in and remove the cofferdams. The next time TID will carry out this inspection is the year 2024.