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Friant Water Releases Ramp up to Prevent Flooding

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With Millerton Lake at nearly 80% capacity and heavy rain expected, Reclamation officials are releasing more water into the San Joaquin River. (Shutterstock)
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With more heavy rain expected through the middle of next week, the Bureau of Reclamation said Friday that it will ramp up the release of water from Millerton Lake.

The idea is to make more room behind Friant Dam for the high volume of water anticipated from rain and run-off — and avoid flooding along the San Joaquin River bottom.

Watch: Rain Nourishes the Valley

As of Friday morning, the reservoir was at 79% capacity. That’s nearly double the historical average for this time of year. Millerton has a storage capacity of 520,500 acre-feet.

Beginning today, Friant releases into the river increased from 600 cubic feet per second to 1,600 cfs. In the days ahead, they could jump to 4,500 cfs or more.

Meanwhile, releases to the Madera Canal are expected to increase from about 200 cfs to 1,000 cfs.

Near the River? Be on Lookout for Deep, Fast Currents

The forecast calls for sometimes heavy rain over the next week. Thus, changes to operations may be made with little to no advance warning, Reclamation officials said.

Landowners and recreationists are cautioned that flow levels can quickly change on the river.

Information on the daily operations of Friant Dam is at Reclamation’s Central Valley Operation Office website.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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