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BUILDING BERMS

Around dairies, almond orchards

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BUILDING BERMS

Traffic is slowed down as crews rush to build berms around an almond orchard in peak bloom on the west side of South Airport Way on Almondwood Drive. Farmers are not the only ones trying to protect...

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/Bulletin Correspondent/


POSTED February 27, 2017 12:11 a.m.

Good fences make good neighbors, so the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Frost wrote in one of his verses.

In South Manteca, berms make good almond orchards. And their message is, begone flood waters.

This is what’s happening now in the low-lying areas of South Manteca, specifically the west side of South Airport Way from Woodward and on to Division Road. With the peak blooming season of almond trees, one of San Joaquin County’s top crops, coinciding with the threat of flooding due to rising water at nearby San Joaquin River and weakened levees, nut farmers are taking precautions to protect their income from this year’s harvest.

Their hope is that the piles of dirt surrounding the orchards will prevent flood waters from inundating the blooming trees, a critical phase in the crop’s nut-producing cycle.

Berm building around orchards went into crisis mode before and after the levee breach at Hays Road along the San Joaquin River.

But almond farmers are not the only ones who have taken undertaken this preventative measure. Homeowners, notably those on the west side of Airport Way, are doing it too – or have already done it. The same is true with concerned dairy farmer in the area including some that are on South Union Road. One large dairy on South Union Road just north of Trahern Road had crews operating front loaders to create protective berms around the part of the dairy on the west side. Keeping the corrals dry is far better and more fiscally sound, not to mention less labor intensive, than having to load up and transport the animals to escape flood waters.

Good news

and bad news

As of now, there’s good news as well as bad news in the horizon. Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal announced on his Facebook page on Saturday, Feb. 25, that there is “no major storm” in the latest weather forecast and that Don Pedro dam, which feeds the San Joaquin River, “is closing its spillway.”

The latest announcement last week from the National Weather Service indicate that “Don Pedro and other local dams are making large reservoir releases that are raising river levels along the Lower San Joaquin River north of Grayson into the south delta. These elevated levels are causing flooding in the low-lying areas along the river and increasing concerns on the levees in the area.”

Those dam concerns prompted San Joaquin County officials and the National Weather Service to encourage local residents to “be prepared to take action in the event that levee conditions were to deteriorate.”

“The not-so-bad news from the Lathrop mayor comes from the short statement that came with his feel-good announcement. “I feel cautiously optimistic,” he stated.

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