July 2023 - Snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada mountain range just to the east of Fresno sent water cascading into the San Joaquin River this summer, causing Millerton Lake to rise to the top of Friant Dam and over its spillway.
Water managers from the U.S. Department of Reclamation had been releasing water all spring into the river, the Friant-Kern Canal and the Madera Canal leaving the reservoir intentionally low in anticipation of this water year's plentiful runoff. The cool spring weather meant the snow melted more slowly than it would have had the temperatures risen more suddenly.
By summer, when Fresno temperatures rose above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the rate of melting increased dramatically. Friant Dam reached its capacity in mid-July and water began to flow over the spillway as designed, but the flow was not enough to cause any downstream flooding.
The Fresno Aquarium property was high and dry this entire season even as the clear, cold mountain water rushed past our site. What a great opportunity it will be for visitors when they can see the power of California's second largest river right outside the Aquarium doors and learn not only about fish, but also about the San Joaquin Valley's amazing water story.