City of Firebaugh closes the San Joaquin River for at least two weeks

FIREBAUGH, Calif. (KFSN) -- For the second time this year a massive release of water is being ordered at Friant Dam-- over 9,000 cubic feet of water being pushed out every second to make room for fast melting snowpack.

"It's flowing pretty high right now, about the highest it's been this year since the January/February time frame," said Michael Jackson, Bureau of Reclamation.

The dam is about 88-percent full right now and more water is currently coming in than flowing out. Officials say these releases don't just stress the dam but also the levees downstream.

"They have patrol going under these conditions going 24 hours a day in a number of locations, just to watch and monitor things," said Jackson.

While the San Joaquin River hasn't reached flood stage-- the fast flows do present another problem. On Friday-- Firebaugh became another city to close access to the river for safety reasons.

Brett Miller, with the Firebaugh Police Department, said, "It's gone this high three other times since I have been here, and in those times we've closed it off to the public."

Police officers said large pieces of debris make it unsafe for people to swim along public access points. And they will be patrolling the area to make sure people obey the closure.

"We don't want anyone getting hurt or having a search or rescue, so far we haven't had any incidents," said Miller.

Officials anticipate these releases will last anywhere from three days to a week, but the public access points will likely be closed for a lot longer.
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