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Flood danger still exists
High waters delaying critical seepage repairs along levees
The San Joaquin River has lowered its level since this photo was taken in mid-February. Water levels and flows are still, however, significantly above normal for this time of year. - photo by HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photo

The first day of summer is a week away.
The high is expected to  soar past 100 degrees for the first time this year on Friday.
That said, a high alert is remaining in effect essentially saying flooding along the San Joaquin and Stanislaus rivers is a real possibility.
The agency responsible for the levees that protect Manteca, Lathrop, San Joaquin County and Stockton sent that message to the hundreds of thousands of people within its boundaries Tuesday afternoon.
The flood danger is not quite over yet.
The governing board of Reclamation District 17 voted unanimously at its meeting Tuesday afternoon in Stockton to extend the declaration of flood emergency until the board takes action in the future to reverse it. The move allows the district and its representatives to take whatever measure is necessary to prevent flooding.
According to the declaration, RD 17 has been delayed in completing critical levee seepage repairs, and upstream flood control reservoirs – with the exception of New Melones – are significantly encroached into the flood reservation space thereby increasing the likelihood of releases beyond the safe carrying capacity of the downstream channels.
When coupled with what has happened on the San Joaquin River in the last six months – and with a snowpack that is still greatly in excess of normal – the district felt compelled to extend the declaration in order to be ready for anything that may arise in the coming months.
And according to historical averages, it could be August before the worst of what has been seen is in the past.
Charts that were prepared as part of RD 17 Engineer Chris Neudeck’s report Tuesday show that in both 1982 and 1997, known as historically wet years, both Don Pedro and New Melones Reservoirs reached their peak for the year after June 1 and as late as July. That means that excessive released of water from those reservoirs to make room for the melting snowpack could have downstream implications downstream.
The extended declaration means that because a state of emergency exists, a trustee of the district, the District Engineer, the District Secretary and the District Superintendent are delegated the authority to repair District levee facilities and take any directly related and immediate action required to procure the necessary equipment, services and supplies without having to give notice for contract bids.
A number of the expenditures already made to repair seepage issues along the levees may be eligible for reimbursement by the Federal Emergency Management Authority, FEMA, because a State of Emergency due to potential flooding was declared.
The District’s board will review the declaration next month when they meet to conduct normal business.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.