PG&E warns of dam water release above Millerton this weekend

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MILLERTON LAKE, Calif. (KGPE) — PG&E plans to release a huge amount of water from Kerckhoff Dam this Sunday, which is above Millerton Lake. This, while SCE will conduct a whitewater boating release at Redinger Dam, which is above Kerckhoff.

The power companies are putting out warnings that this will create dangerous rising water downstream through recreation areas all the way down to Millerton Lake. A PG&E spokesperson says the release is part of the hydroelectric power plant’s relicensing.

Kerckhoff Reservoir is a man-made lake on the San Joaquin River upstream of Millerton Lake. Originally built in 1920, it was the first hydroelectric power plant on the San Joaquin River.

PG&E published this information regarding the release:

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will increase flows on a portion of the San Joaquin River on Sunday, June 6, by releasing more water from the Kerckhoff Dam in Fresno County.

Due to the limited and difficult egress from the San Joaquin River Gorge, PG&E advises the public to avoid entering the water during the high flow release. Those recreating in or near this part of the river are advised to exercise caution.

The higher flows are planned as part of a study for the Kerckhoff Hydroelectric Project relicensing.

Starting at about 5 a.m. on Sunday, June 6, PG&E will gradually increase water flows from about 40 to 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs). Flows will be held at 1,500 cfs until approximately 2 p.m. that day, then gradually reduced until reaching about 40 cfs by 5 p.m.

The higher flows will be present along nine miles of river between the Kerckhoff Dam and Millerton Lake.

Stay out of cold water. Sudden immersion in cold water can stimulate the “gasp reflex,” causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water. It can even trigger cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia, and drowning. When faced with swift water, even the strongest swimmers may be easily overwhelmed.

Many unseen obstacles can be lurking below the water’s surface. Swift water can make these obstacles even more treacherous. Guided trips for inexperienced paddlers are strongly recommended.

Recreating in PG&E canals and flumes is strictly prohibited. Stay out of canals and flumes, which are very dangerous due to slippery sides, sub-surface obstacles, fast-moving water, and transitions to full tunnels and pipes. For more water safety tips visit here.

Southern California Edison has published this additional information regarding the release:

Southern California Edison (SCE) is planning to provide whitewater boating release as required as part of our recently approved Long-Term Operating Rules (Rules) for the Big Creek No. 4 FERC Project (P-2017).  As part of our commitment to Public Safety, we are reaching out to ensure transparent and timely communication to you regarding this whitewater boating release. Since it is an extremely dry year, SCE is required to provide supplemental flows for whitewater boating opportunities on a weekend under our “Non-Spill Year Schedule” of the Rules.  We have scheduled the release for the weekend of June 5.  Per the ramping schedules in our Rules, we will begin releases prior to 5:30 a.m. to ensure there are no recreationists in the San Joaquin River bypass reach when we begin to increase flows to between 2,000 and 2,500 cfs (current flow is the minimum instream flow release requirements of about 45 cfs, plus whatever flows come from Willow Creek).  The flows will stay within the boatable flow range of 2,500 cfs and 1,600 cfs for June 5 and 6, and then beginning Monday, June 7, will decrease per the ramping schedule back down to the minimum flow release requirement by early morning Tuesday, June 8.

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July 23 2021 05:30 pm

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