To maintain the recreational and natural resources we treasure in the Lower American River Watershed—from Folsom Lake through the Parkway to the confluence with the Sacramento River—it is becoming more and more evident that we need to construct the Auburn Dam on the North Fork of the American River to store water in wet years for use in dry ones.
Folsom Dam pours it on
Rapid releases are worrying fish fans
By Matt Weiser - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, July 29, 2007
Drought and rapid water releases out of Folsom Dam this month are causing some American River observers to warn that a massive fish kill could be in store this fall.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been releasing water from Folsom Dam at around 4,000 cubic feet per second every day this month -- far more than in the two previous dry years, in 2001 and 2004.
That's been good for river recreation but may mean trouble for fish. It could deplete cold water in Folsom Lake that would otherwise be available to release when salmon return to spawn and young steelhead wait to travel downstream.
Salmon and steelhead are both protected by state and federal endangered species laws. Ironically, a crisis with another protected fish contributed to the problem this year.
In June, state and federal water exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta were slashed to protect the Delta smelt. Hundreds of the tiny fish were dying in the pumps, when their total population was already known to be at historic lows.
To continue serving farms and cities south of the Delta, water was delivered instead from San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos, a waystation along the state and federal canal system.