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High water at Lodi Lake worries city officials

Woodbridge Irrigation District chief says no danger of property damage

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Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 12:00 am

Water lapping dangerously close to motorists driving along the back side of Lodi Lake. A boat launch partially under water, and the base of trees now submerged. Jeff Hood, director of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department, is concerned these and other city assets are being affected by unusually high water.

But Andy Christensen, the general manager of Woodbridge Irrigation District, isn’t overly worried.

“The level might have gotten a little high, but there was never any danger to any property,” he said Monday afternoon, after WID drew down the water level in the morning after being alerted of the height of the lake.

The lake’s water level is controlled by WID’s dam, which controls the flow of the Mokelumne River.

But the lake has been dangerously close to overflowing its banks in recent weeks, and only got worse over the weekend, Hood said, adding that the city has received a number of complaints about the rising water.

It is unclear why there have been higher levels recently, Christensen said.

Aside from performing maintenance in short intervals, WID no longer regularly drains the lake.

The city has intermittently requested WID lower the water level when it gets high, Hood said. WID complies for a time, he said, but then the level comes back up.

While the dam should allow greater control of the flow and water levels, WID can not maintain a constant elevation at all times due to diverters along the river, Christensen said. Because of that, he said there is a 4- to 6-inch variable on the lake at any given time.

“We may be operating at a higher level,” he said, adding that WID would be working with the city.

Currently, a storm drain is lower than the river level, causing it to back up into a parking lot adjacent to the lake, according to Hood.

Additionally, both the reinforced concrete rims built around the lake and the bottom of the Dauber dock are underwater more often than they’re not, he said.

Hood believes there could be long-term damage, including trees falling from having their roots saturated.

He points to the $55,000 the city spent in February to replace a 65-foot section of concrete riprap on the east side of the lake.

“I don’t know what the cause of that (damage) was, but the water is historically high,” Hood said. “It’d be great if the water levels stayed constant. This is a regular problem. Trying to maintain our parks are costly enough. Lodi Lake is an asset. It belongs to the city.”

Contact report Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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