Tulloch Reservoir water to be released to help trout

An aerial shot of Tulloch Reservoir, which will be drawn down by 30,000 acre-feet, starting as early as Aug. 23.

To the chagrin of nearby homeowners and farmers, a significant amount of water will soon be released from Tulloch Reservoir, one of the few Mother Lode lakes that have retained most of its capacity.

A press release from the Tri-Dam Project of the South San Joaquin and Oakdale Irrigation Districts said that landowners, businesses and governmental agencies had been notified Tulloch Reservoir will be drawn down by 30,000 acre-feet starting as early as Aug. 23.

The release of water from Tulloch will be coordinated with releases by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from their low-level outlet at New Melones Reservoir, which will determine whether Tulloch’s drawdown happens later than Aug. 23. The releases are designed to work in tandem to lower water temperatures affecting rainbow trout below Goodwin Dam on the Stanislaus River.

The 30,000 acre-foot drawdown is approximately 20,000 acre-feet more than normal operations.

The Lake Tulloch Alliance, an association of Tulloch Reservoir area homeowners, issued its own press release Friday saying the water release is unnecessary and negligent. Spokesperson Jack Cox, who was under the impression that Tulloch would remain at its typical capacity until September based on a previous agreement, said he and the alliance members didn’t receive the initial press release and had to ask the Tri-Dam Project members to send it to him.

“No one knew anything about this in advance,” Cox said.

A press release Cox sent out Friday on behalf of the Lake Tulloch Alliance states that the Oakdale Irrigation District conducted a study that showed the policy of drawing water down to lower water temperatures won’t actually benefit fish, but will be a burden for those who rely on Tulloch for water supply.

“These irrigation districts have simply refused to protect the farmers and residents of the Sierra Foothills from misguided public policies that are wasting billions of gallons of water for a biological purpose they know doesn’t work,” Cox said.

Cox also said the water release will negatively affect the ecology and real estate economy of Tulloch, and he criticized the Tri-Dam Project for not objecting to the plan. He also revealed that Tri-Dam officials had told him the Tulloch community is secondary to water sales and electricity generation.

Read Tuesday’s edition of the Enterprise for a full story on the issue.

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