After years of planning, construction on a lake project north of Lodi may finally break ground this year.
The North San Joaquin Water Conservation District received an update on the Tracy Lake Recharge Project at its Monday meeting.
Part-time project manager Walter Sadler told district members the project is moving along, but several permits need to be approved before construction can begin on the $1.6 million project.
Sadler said the district is waiting for project authorization under the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreement.
Sections 1600 to 1607 of the department’s Lake and Streambed Alteration Program requires an agency whose project will divert or obstruct the natural flow of water in the area to notify the department of the project.
If the department determines the project will adversely affect existing fish and wildlife resources, an agency must obtain a Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement.
According to a draft environmental assessment from the United States Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation released Monday, Central Valley steelhead, Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, winter-run Chinook salmon and fall-run Chinook salmon all may be in the project area. California tiger salamander, California red-legged frog, succulent owl’s-clover and Swainson’s hawk also may be affected by the Tracy Lake project, the assessment said.
The winter-run Chinook salmon is considered endangered, while the fall-run Chinook salmon is a “species of concern,” according to the assessment. The other animals and vegetation are all considered threatened, according to the assessment.
The district is also waiting on permits from various environmental agencies that are required for California Environmental Quality Act approval.
Construction can begin once all the project’s documents and permits are CEQA-approved, according to Jennifer Spaletta, an attorney with Herum-Crabtree who has been representing the district at State Water Resources Control Board meetings.
“We have many of these (documents) ready to submit in the next three to six months,” Spaletta said. “Once we get these permits done we can start construction, and our goal is to try and get construction started in 2014.”
The Tracy Lake Recharge Project will pull water from the Mokelumne River to an area off Forest Lake Road in Acampo to create a year-round lake.
Local growers plan to use that water to irrigate crops while some trickles down to restore groundwater levels in the area.
The project involves a new pump station with two units and a pipeline to divert water into Tracy Lake. The pumps would handle a maximum of 40 cubic feet of water per second.
A 12-foot diameter cone-shaped fish screen on the river would be connected to the pump station by a 48-inch outlet pipe. The station would then be connected to the lake by a 1,000-foot pipeline traveling north.
According to the Bureau of Reclamation’s environmental assessment, construction is expected to begin this spring or summer, and last as many as six months.
Once construction is complete, the lake would be filled April 1, 2015, to a maximum of 16 feet depending on irrigation demand.
The draft assessment, with complete project specifications, can be viewed at www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_projdetails.cfm?Project_ID=16281.
Contact reporter Wes Bowers at email@example.com.