The Bureau of Reclamation has started to increase releases out of Millerton Lake to clear way for water from a winter storm expected this weekend. That could mean the San Joaquin River below Friant Dam will flow at higher level than is usual for this time of year. It's the first time large flood flows have been released out of Millerton Lake since July 2011.
“It’s going to be a pretty warm storm with fairly high snow levels so we’re expecting to see pretty good inflows into the lake itself that we haven’t seen in quite a while," says Bureau Spokesman Shane Hunt.
Hunt says they’re already seeing higher flows into the lake from the recent storm. When the releases began, Millerton Lake was at 73 percent of its capacity. By lowering the level, the bureau hopes to avoid disastrous conditions like when the reservoir overflowed in 1997 washing out the Old Friant Bridge, flooding the Friant Fish Hatchery and leaving homes with millions of dollars of damage along the San Joaquin River.