While the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted to close two major stretches of the Mokelumne River to public use on Tuesday, the county Sheriff’s Office may reopen the river a lot sooner than expected.
It could even be this weekend.
That’s because the East Bay Municipal Utility District reduced river flows from Camanche Dam this week, making it less dangerous for rafters and sunbathers, county Sheriff Steve Moore told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
Sgt. Carey Pehl, who oversees the Sheriff’s boating safety unit, said after Tuesday’s meeting that he planned to observe the Mokelumne River later Tuesday to see what the conditions look like.
The Board of Supervisors was ready to approve closure of much of the river to rafters and sunbathers for up to 60 days, but the river will reopen if flows continue to decrease, Moore said.
However, supervisors followed Moore’s advice to keep the river open to boaters because boats are safer than rafts. The board also added sunbathers to the ban because the high and rapid waters can be hazardous to them as well, Moore said.
The closures are from the fish hatchery near Camanche Dam downstream to the Bruella Road bridge in Victor, and from Woodbridge Dam to Peltier Road.
The change of direction came when EBMUD announced it had reduced flows from Camanche Dam to 1,800 cubic feet per second Tuesday morning. Plans called for flows to be further reduced to 1,600 cfs by the end of Tuesday and to about 1,400 cfs today, Moore said.
EBMUD had released 5,000 cfs of water through Camanche Dam last week to avoid having the dam overflow from late-season rains and snowfall.
The board still approved a resolution on the 60-day closure Tuesday, but it’s only to give the Sheriff’s Office the flexibility to open or close the river as it sees fit.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.