Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The San Joaquin River: Water Wasted

Dale Matson

I have heard lots of folks who argue against the value of creating additional water storage and for increased water conservation. These same folks advocate for yards that require less water and artificial turf. Often they will blame the lack of available water on ‘Climate Change’. They argue against increased storage capacity saying that in average years, there is adequate capacity and that a new dam at Temperance Flat would not be cost effective. Being cost effective is based on the supply of any particular resource.
However, increased storage is water conservation. We have an existing storage infrastructure designed for a much smaller population than the 40 million people who now inhabit California. When hiking and backpacking, I have been able to view most of the length of California’s 2nd longest river beginning with the north, middle and south forks with headwaters in the high Sierra. The three forks merge before entering Mammoth Pool Reservoir, which is currently only at 43% capacity.
The problem is that much of the water at Millerton Lake is now being discharged back into the San Joaquin to make room for anticipated runoff because of above average rainfall and anticipated large snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. Millerton Lake is currently only at 73% capacity and not being allowed to fill fearing that the excess would spill over the top and overwhelm the banks of the San Joaquin. This happened in the last decade and washed out the bridge below the dam on the road heading to Bass Lake out of Friant. The remains of the bridge can still be seen as stark evidence of the force of too much water overwhelming the dam at Millerton Lake. One of the reasons Friant Dam was built was for flood control. Unfortunately because of lack of funds the dam was downsized when built. The runoff is water that could also be stored at the potential Temperance Dam site instead of flowing into the ocean.
I live in Fresno CA near the San Joaquin and in wet years while walking in Woodward Park, have grieved the sheer waste of water being allowed to flow to the ocean as if the river were a giant storm drain. This year, I photographed and videoed this event in hopes that a picture would be worth a thousand words. Some who oppose the new proposed reservoir may see themselves as ‘environmental activists’ and ‘River Preservationists’ but, in fact, they are not “Friends of the River”.  True conservationists would not allow the loss of such a great water resource.   Click On Photographs To Enlarge

For My YouTube Video Of This Water Click On Link Below

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