January 28, 2008

Mojave River Flooding closes Rock Springs Road

2,400 gallons of water per second being released

RYAN ORR Staff Writer
Victor Valley Daily Press

Rock Springs Road has been over taken by Mojave River flood waters.
Reneh Agha / Staff Photographer

ROCK SPRINGS — Rock Springs Road has been over taken by Mojave River flood waters and now looks more like a lake, cutting off at least 11,000 vehicles per day who use it.

Due to the recent heavy rains more than 366,000 gallons of water per minute is being released into the Mojave River, which has caused the closing of Rock Springs Road.

The low-lying road which connects Apple Valley to Hesperia is often flooded out during heavy rains.

The recent storms caused the California Department of Water Resources to release water from Silverwood Lake.

“Cedar Springs Dam is not a flood control dam so any natural resources that come in, we have to let out,” said John Bunce, operations superintendent for the department.

Starting Sunday, the department began releasing 320 cubic feet of water from the dam per second, or 2,400 gallons.

By Sunday night it was up to 4,500 gallons per second being released, said David Zook, spokesman for San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt.

Monday morning they increased the flow again up to 815 cubic feet per second, or 61,000 gallons, Zook added. It will continue at that rate indefinitely he said.

The Cedar Springs Dam holds water in Silverwood Lake. The lake is a state water project retaining water from the California Aqueduct.

“That water belongs to us, not the state water project,” Zook said of the natural rainfall.

The Mojave Forks Dam, located further down river from Silverwood lake but still before Rock Springs Road was reportedly releasing 5,700 cubic feet of water per second Sunday or 42,750 gallons of water.

The National Weather Service released a flood warning Sunday saying significant water was expected to be released into the Mojave River.

As a result of the alert, Mitzelfelt initiated the telephone emergency notification system to alert residents in the area of the possible flood dangers.

Zook said about 3,000 residents were notified.

Monday afternoon, eight inches of water was still flowing over Rock Springs Road, Zook said.

Zook said public works officials didn’t expect the road to be badly damaged from the flooding.

According to the San Bernardino County Department of Public Works, no other roads down stream required closure, due to the water being released.

Mitzelfelt said he has been wanting to build a bridge over the river on Rock Springs Road since he was appointed but the cost is too high.

Original estimates to build a permanent bridge when it was washed out in 2004 came in at $15 million.