Many people throughout the region will enjoy time with family and friends over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend holiday. Some of their plans may take them on or near the fast-moving Stanislaus River.
The Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts, as part of their joint Save the Stan public education campaign, want people to safely enjoy the river as well as the parks and land that border it.
Unfortunately, many boaters, rafters, fishermen and others do not recognize how dangerous the river can be at its current flow rate of 3,000 cfs, about twice as much as earlier this month. The river is cold, it is fast and its currents are unyielding.
Already this spring, a Lodi man is feared to have drowned on the river near Ripon. Emergency personnel also have been called on to perform numerous rescues. Everyone is urged to use extreme caution until the flows recede, which isn’t expected until the end of the month or early June.
For those who choose to be on the river and other waterways, life jackets are highly recommended. As part of a program operated by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, life jackets can be reserved and checked out for free at five locations in the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Department: Station 26 at 3318 Topeka St., Riverbank; Station 27 at 450 S. Willowood Drive, Oakdale; Station 28 at 325 E. G St., Oakdale; Station 29 at 17700 Main St., Knights Ferry; Station 30 at 13200 Valley Home Road, Valley Home.
Life jackets come in sizes for adults to small children. For more information, call 869-7470.
At least through Memorial Day weekend, SSJID and OID officials encourage anyone who wants to enjoy recreational activities on or near the Stanislaus River to use regionally managed parks at Woodward and Tulloch reservoirs.
The higher currents – known as pulse flows – are normal for this time of the year. Spring pulse flows are intended to enhance outmigration of fall-run Chinook salmon. They are part of a coordinated water management system involving the federal Bureau of Reclamation, which operates New Melones Reservoir on the Stanislaus River, and SSJID and OID, which have historic water rights on the river.
These augmented flows provide additional outmigration incentives for young salmon as well as an opportunity for other areas of the state to use this surface water for irrigation, reducing groundwater use. Water districts dependent upon the federal and state systems are utilizing the additional supplies to backstop shortages in their water supply this year.
The South San Joaquin Irrigation District was established in 1909 and is located in Manteca. It provides agricultural irrigation water to about 55,000 acres in Escalon, Ripon and Manteca. In 2005, the district expanded into providing domestic water service to selected cities within its territory. The Oakdale Irrigation District was created in 1909 and provides agricultural water to about 62,000 acres in northeastern Stanislaus County and southeastern San Joaquin County.