As a series of Atmospheric Rivers once again bring large amounts rain and snow to California this winter, the San Joaquin River along the Fresno Aquarium property is currently flowing high and fast.
The Bureau of Reclamation is releasing this water from Friant Dam to make room for massive amounts of runoff from the Sierra Nevada mountains that will gush into Millerton Lake behind the dam in the coming weeks.
The engineered pad (above) where our very first building will be constructed remains high and dry and is in the perfect location to bring students and visitors right up to the banks of California's second largest river. We have amazing local water stories to tell from both past and present perspectives and our proximity to the river makes us uniquely positioned to share these stories with you.
One of these stories is what happens to all the precipitation that falls on California's San Joaquin Valley from Atmospheric Rivers and other rain events. While large amounts of water are stored in the reservoirs behind the large dams of both the State and Federal Water Projects, even more water is naturally stored underground within the aquifers beneath the Valley floor.
Dozens of irrigation and other water districts are currently working to increase replenishment of these aquifers by continuing to construct recharge basins strategically located throughout the Valley. The City of Fresno has numerous sites dedicated to groundwater recharge such as "Leaky Acres" built more than 50 years ago near Fresno Yosemite International Airport and numerous basins maintained by the Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District, many of which are connected to Fresno Irrigation District canals that may be used to fill them.
Historically in the San Joaquin Valley, in addition to rain directly soaking into the ground and down into aquifers, Sierra snowmelt-fed rivers would spread their floodwaters over thousands of acres with most of this water also soaking into the ground.
Today, by creating more recharge basins, we are working to replicate what was occurring over millions of years when flooding was uncontrolled. Allowing as much water as possible to percolate into the ground will preserve it in a place where it cannot evaporate and will be available for urban and agricultural uses when the dry summer months arrive.