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Tuolumne River Will Rise Drastically As Water Is Released From Don Pedro Reservoir To Send Salmon Out To Sea

TUOLUMNE COUNTY (CBS13) - Water officials are about to let a lot of water out of Lake Don Pedro to help sweep newly hatched salmon out to sea.

Officials are also warning people about the Tuolumne River in Modesto, which is expected to rise eleven times its current level. The water is expected to rise 4 to 6 feet in the next 24 hours.

The Turlock Irrigation District is warning hikers, anglers, and other visitors to stay out of the water.

"The water is going to be very cold because we've increased the flow, so if you get into the river hypothermia can set in," says Wes Monier, a Turlock Irrigation District employee.

But if you do go near the water a life vest is key, even if you're just walking on rocks, for example, you could slip off into the water.

A local fisherman plans to heed the warnings.

"[I'm] not gonna go when it's that cold. No reason for it," says David Keefer, who often fishes with his children.

He also encourages avid anglers to follow suit.

"If it's high and cold it's not usually good fishing," says Keefer.

Water will be released from the Don Pedro Reservoir starting Saturday as one of two annual "surges" required by fish and wildlife even in a drought.

This surge will release just under two percent of the expected Spring runoff.

"What we're doing is we're assisting the juvenile salmon to reach the delta," says Monier.

Before reservoirs were built, Spring snowmelt would surge through the rivers and young salmon would ride the wave down to the Delta and into the pacific ocean.

"So that's what we're doing [is] mimicking nature," says Monier.

The levels are expected to return to normal next week.

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