MANTECA (KPIX 5) — After weeks of heavy rain, the San Joaquin River just south of Tracy remains very swollen.
Trees remain submerged as far as the eye can see. It paints a good picture of just how wet this winter has been.
Looking down over Highway 132, near Interstate Highway 580, you can get a true sense of the scale.
Typically, the San Joaquin River near Manteca is about 200 feet wide, but now after weeks of historic rainfall, it’s much wider.
Manteca Sportsman Shooting Club president Len Sipe estimates that it’s now probably half a mile wide.
And most people around don’t mind. The rains are seen as more of a blessing than a curse.
The river is just below flood stage and dropping, but there is still minor flooding in neighboring farmland and low-lying areas.
At the Manteca Sportsman Shooting Club, the old mock cowboy town is under 4 feet of water, not because the river topped its banks or broke through a levee.
“Seepage,” Sipe explained. “Water coming up from the ground. The water level is not very low here. You can dig down and get to the water.”
They’re not allowed to pump the water back into the river and so with nowhere to put it, so Sipe is simply moving the water to another part of the property and then waits for it to seep back down to where it came from.
In this extraordinary winter, such is the business of managing mother nature. Sipe isn’t letting it get him down.
“Well, this is kind of an every 10 year occurrence. So we just do what we can do until the river level goes down and will be fine,” he said.
And this is the reality for a lot of farms, homes, and businesses along with San Joaquin River. They have to wait for the river level itself to drop down before things get back to normal.
But with a huge snow pack in the Sierra Mountains and a lot of snow melt coming this spring, that likely won’t happen until sometime mid-summer.