Merced County officials asking people to think twice before swimming in Merced River

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Merced County Sheriff's Department deputies said the Merced River is where they see a majority of problems. (KFSN)

Rivers are roaring as recent rain fills up local lakes and reservoirs up to capacity, and while more water in the Merced River may seem inviting to people wanting to cool off officials say it could also be deadly.

"The water is up higher than in previous years, you don't know what's under the water. It may look perfectly safe but you don't know what's under there," said Mike Jensen with the Merced Irrigation District.

Jensen said the current is moving quickly-- 7,000 cubic feet per second of water is coming through the reservoir.

"That's about nine and a half feet of water filling a football field every nine or 10 minutes."

Merced County Sheriff's Department deputies said the Merced River is where they see a majority of problems. They say the fast stream, along with debris hidden underneath the water's surface, can pose a deadly combination.

"The flow of the current and the obstacle and it can pin them underwater and they'll end up drowning," said Sgt. Aaron Rosenberg, Merced County Sheriff's Department Dive Team.

Jensen said they plan to work with the county as he expects the high flows to last throughout the summer as snow continues to melt.

"Stay safe, stay out-- I think that applies to the Merced River this year."

Deputies with the Merced County Sheriff's Department said they have at least 15 members of the dive team ready to go if a water emergency comes up; they have also do training at least one a month for those type of scenarios.

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