First Pump Set Up Near Levee
Published Tuesday, July 13 2004
The first of 10 giant pumps being set up along a levee was powered up Monday afternoon, sucking the first spurts of flood water off Upper Jones Tract and back into the Delta, the state Department of Water Resources announced. The island’s 12,153 acres of low-lying farmland went under after a June 3 levee break that washed away 400 feet of a levee along Middle River on the island’s west side.
“The contractor is bringing the pumps on line one at a time,” said Don Strickland, a spokesman for the state. “When they get the bugs worked out of one, they’ll move on to the next.” Ford Construction Co. of Lodi fired up the first of eight pumps connected to 42-inch pipes that will eventually remove about 100,000 acre feet of water covering the island. Two 30-inch pipes also will be used. The two close-by clusters of pumps are going in on either side of elevated railroad tracks that divide Upper and Lower Jones Tracts. The diesel-powered pumps were trucked to the site by a Florida supplier and hooked up to giant pipelines welded in place by the Lodi firm.
Ford’s contract calls for the floodwaters to be drained by at least three feet by mid-August and all the water gone by mid-October. Meanwhile, the final shaping of the material dumped into the breech is being done by a San Rafael contractor that closed the hole on June 30. Strickland says the roadway across the top of the break should be reopened in about two and a half weeks. By mid-August, the enormous lake sitting atop the Delta island should be drawn down by at least three feet, said Bill Burkhard, an engineer for the state Department of Water Resources who has been heading up the island-restoration effort.
The water depth on the island ranges from about 12 to 18 feet and possibly even deeper, he said. As water is drawn down, pressure on groundwater will lessen. That will reduce the amount of water bubbling up on neighboring islands and flooding crops, Burkhard said. Jones Tract flooded after a June 3 levee break that washed away nearly 400 feet of a levee along Middle River on the island’s west side. Because the island’s peat soil has subsided over the last century, the island’s fields are located below sea level and are easily flooded. On Jones Tract, the flood displaced about 300 farmers, residents, and farm workerst.