SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Bureau of Reclamation announces reduced releases from Nimbus Dam to the lower American River. Beginning January 7, Reclamation will reduce flows in the lower American River from 1,100 cubic feet per second to 800 cfs, then gradually to 500 cfs by January 10. With the extended dry runoff conditions, flow reductions are needed to protect steelhead that will be spawning in the river in January and February. Flows need to be lowered now to a rate that can be sustained into spring with the limited storage available behind Folsom Dam. Folsom Reservoir storage is currently at 178,000 acre-feet, which is 42 percent of the historical 15-year average.
The decision to reduce releases was made following a meeting on January 3 of the American River Group, which consists of representatives from multiple fishery agencies and Reclamation (meetings are open to local environmental interests and water agencies). At the meeting, the group reviewed Reclamation’s proposal to reduce flows, provided input, and concurred with the plan as one of the steps needed to manage the American River basin’s increasingly limited water supplies.
Reclamation manages Folsom Reservoir to meet demands that include municipal, industrial and agricultural water supply; water for fisheries and wildlife; Delta water quality; and recreational uses. Reclamation has been working with watershed interests for the past five months to devise strategies in the event that dry conditions continue through WY 2014. The plan to reduce flows is part of a larger effort to manage the region’s water supplies during the continuing dry conditions. Other actions being considered include working with water purveyors to enact water conservation measures and looking to other sources of water. Reclamation will continue to work with partners within the watershed and the State of California to manage through the dry conditions.
The storage capacity of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project reservoirs is approximately 11,360,000 acre-feet. Due to persistent dry conditions and the need to meet environmental, agricultural and municipal demands, CVP reservoirs are currently at 4,395,000 acre-feet of storage, which is 62 percent of the 15-year average storage for this date. With 2013 being California’s driest calendar year since record keeping began, and with the limited January 1st snow pack and a low carryover storage, Reclamation believes that, in addition to an improved hydrology, water conservation will play a key role in managing available water supplies during this period of low precipitation and runoff conditions.
Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov.