Water Levels Expected to Rise in Merced River

Merced River. Photo: KFSN

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KMJ/KFSN) — As the temperatures begin to rise in Central California, there is concern of strong currents through the Merced River.

“We’ve had plenty of snow and rain and we were able to capture quite a bit of that in the reservoir,” said Mike Jensen from the Merced Irrigation District (MID).

The MID supplies water and power to thousands of people while maintaining the New Exchequer and McSwain dams.

On Wednesday, the MID started releasing more water through those dams.

The Merced River flow near Snelling will significantly increase until it reaches its goal of 2,600 cubic feet per second.

Which means, the water can become dangerous.

“It’s strong flows with strong currents. You don’t always see those currents on the top of the water, it could be underneath it, so it may not look like it’s very strong, but once you’re in the water, it can certainly take you downstream,” said Jensen.

Authorities said waterways like this one shown in video are a better alternative as the weather gets warmer.

“If you wanna go swimming, please go to Lake Yosemite. Enjoy yourself there and designated swimming areas,” said Sergeant Chris Chilton with the Merced County Sheriff’s Office.

He said there’ve been several incidents where he’s had to help rescuing someone from the fast-moving waters.

“The river changes water levels constantly. And that shifts waterflow, it covers up obstructions. There are bushes and trees that you wouldn’t be able to see,” said Chilton.

MID will only release extra water into the river this month.

Jensen says they will continue to monitor the water flow and adjust if needed.