By: Alex Breitler, Record

STOCKTON – Watch out for lizards, Ruben Sarabia says, kicking up dust as he tromps through a shallow valley in the middle of a walnut orchard.

“This is actually called ‘The Gully,’ ” Sarabia says. “People who say anything else must really know their history.”

This “gully” is the head of Mormon Channel, which – strange though it may seem, given the lizards, the dust and the walnut trees – once carried much of the water that flowed naturally through Stockton out to the Delta.

 Is there enough water? Not for regular flows on both the Mormon Channel and the Calaveras River, says Bill Jennings, a Stockton environmentalist who opposed this project when it was proposed in the 1990s. “Dreams die hard,” Jennings said. “It would be a wonderful thing to have the water running through Stockton, but none of us are prepared to kill the Calaveras River to do it.”