Copperopolis, CA — Recent talk about tapping Lake Tulloch waters before Labor Day has taken a turn for now.
If cooler temperatures continue to prevail, Tri-Dam Project officials today indicate that, while they are making no promises, the outlook looks favorable for water levels to remain viable for lake lovers hoping to enjoy Tulloch over the Labor Day holiday weekend, now two short weeks away. Just a few weeks ago, as previously reported, notices were being sent out, alerting local stakeholders a gradual drawdown might begin as early as this week.
“The goal has always been to use Tulloch as the last straw, if need be, on the system,” states Steve Knell, manager of Oakdale Irrigation District (OID). OID is one of the Tri-Dam partners responsible for maintaining and operating the reservoir. Knell shares, now that Lake Melones is close to 808 feet above sea level, it will enable the Bureau of Reclamation to provide relief for downstream fish hatcheries by accessing the limited 50-degree Fahrenheit water supply available at the dam’s low-level outlet — instead of Tulloch’s cool pool — to blend with 78-degree waters now being released from Melones’ upper-level outlet.
As this week plays out, Knell anticipates no drop to the Lake Tulloch water elevation, and also points to a cooling weather trend after the midweek this week, during which daytime temperatures are expected to remain in the 80s with nighttime lows in the 60s. “All of [the conditions] combined are helping reduce water temperatures that benefit fisheries,” Knell states. While the partners will know by next Monday if other circumstances might impact the current outlook, he indicates, “As long as the temperatures play…and we stay cool like this…the prospect of having a good Labor Day weekend at Tulloch improves, every day that we go forward.”
Crediting the Bureau’s efforts in coordinating and adjusting its river operations to reduce impacts to river users during ongoing drought challenges this season, Knell adds, “We all recognize that Tulloch is a great recreation area…and understand the importance of the Labor Day weekend for all the businesses and those people in the recreational business.” He reminds residents and visitors alike to keep in mind that Lake Tulloch remains, first and foremost, a reservoir, whose primary purpose is to serve the water needs of the district. All the same, Knell says with cautious optimism, “If we can get through this week..that bodes well for next week, and having water at a level that’s beneficial for all those recreational concerns over the [Labor Day holiday] weekend — that’s what our hope is.”