Intentional flooding of the banks of the Lower Owens River worked over the past week or so, and now the water level will edge back down.
Mark Hill of Ecosystems Sciences, a consultant on the river project, stood on Keeler Bridge and talked to us about the flows. He said yesterday that flow measured around 190 cubic feet per second at one point along the route. Hill said the results were very close to what they watned.
Hill and others have been flying in a helicopter over the winding course of the river south of Black Rock. They will compare video with the calculated drawings of the river channel to see what has been flooded and irrigated.
Hill said the goal of the high flushing flows is to flood the river banks and low lying areas to promote the growth of riparian vegetation. Hill said the water actually moved faster than expected. Higher flows were released at the area of the aqueduct intake and traveled about 5 miles per day.
Fears of a fish kill did not come true, according to Hill. He said winter is the best time to raise water flow levels and maintain water quality. The oxygen content in the water is higher in winter, said Hill. He added that the project covered more of the river channel than originally thought.
Now, the spring and summer weather will coax the plants and trees out of what were long dry river banks.