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Fast, cold water raises drowning fears on river

The high on Memorial Day is expected to hit 97 degrees.

It’s why the temptation will be strong to head to the Stanislaus River swelled with snowmelt where the water is now running at 57 degrees or cooler.

Doing so could be a deadly mistake especially without a life jacket in the river that also has a pumped up flow due to efforts to assist the outward migration of the fall-run for the threatened Chinook salmon.

It is why the South San Joaquin Irrigation District along with the Oakdale Irrigation District are urging those who head to the river to reserve life jackets that can checked out for free at five locations of the Stanislaus Consolidated Fiore Department in conjunction with the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways.

The locations are:

* Station 26 at 3318 Topeka St., Riverbank

*Station 27 at 450 S. Willowood Drive, Oakdale

*Station 28 at 325 E. G St., Oakdale

*Station 29 at 17700 Main St., Knights Ferry

* Station 30 at 13200 Valley Home Road, Valley Home

 Life jackets come in sizes for adults to small children. For more information, call 869-7470.

The City of Manteca Fire Department through the Fire Chief’s Foundation has a similar free life jacket loaner program that operates out of the Union Road station north of the 120 Bypass. For more information, call 456-8310.

There has already been one drowning on the Stanislaus River this year in Ripon. There were three drownings last year between Knights Ferry and Ripon.

The high flow of 3,000 cubic feet a second that’s double what’s normal will continue through the end of the month.

The swifter and stronger current is treacherous enough. Add a 40-degree water and air temperature difference and bodies are put under significant stress.


At least through Memorial Day weekend, SSJID and OID officials encourage anyone who wants to enjoy recreational activities on or near the Stanislaus River to use regionally managed parks at Woodward and Tulloch reservoirs.



To contact Dennis Wyatt, email