Holy CDEC*: New Melones hits 2M acre-feet


New Melones Lake soared past 2 million acre-feet of storage over the past few days, a level that no one thought possible (well, I certainly didn’t) a mere six months ago.

The reservoir is now at its highest mark since 2011.

And still rising. This afternoon’s heat has pushed inflow above 9,000 cubic feet per second as Sierra snow begins to melt.

New Melones is now encroaching into space reserved for flood control. And as a consequence, officials are finally releasing substantial amounts of water from the dam — about 5,000 cfs on Tuesday.

At last, the downstream Stanislaus River is experiencing the kind of high flows that every other San Joaquin River tributary has seen for months now.

Let’s be glad the Stan was late to the party. The fact that the Stanislaus was a relative trickle in February is what saved the lower San Joaquin River region from potentially experiencing a much more serious flood.

I won’t say something dumb like “New Melones reaching 2 million acre feet is another sign the drought is over.” It is, of course.

It’s also another sign that we’re not out of the woods on flooding. It’s time to start paying close attention to Stanislaus River flows and what that means for the entire lower San Joaquin basin.

* For those uninitiated: CDEC is pronounced “C-deck,” which rhymes with “heck.” Clever, huh?


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