We are fortunate that the two most popular rivers we raft on in California are the Class III South Fork American River and the Class III-IV Middle Fork American River. The reason? The amount of water in these two rivers is controlled by water-release from dams and reservoirs that are located high in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Agreements have been reached, and approved, that will provide reliable water for the 2015 rafting season.
So, we have plenty of good water for rafting on both the South Fork American River and the Middle Fork American River. In the month of April the media created a perception of dry river beds even though it turns out there is plenty of water. Continue reading and rejoice!
HISTORY OF THE SOUTH FORK AMERICAN RIVER WATER FLOW:
Several years ago the commercial whitewater rafting industry in Coloma began long-term negotiations with SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utilities District), PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) and other stakeholders who have interest in how to manage the water in the state’s rivers and reservoirs that is generated by the Sierra Nevada snow melt. The concern of the whitewater rafting industry was providing recreational opportunities for the general public for public recreation needs. Of utmost importance to the utility companies was, and continues to be, supplying their clients with hydropower and a healthy municipal supply. Agriculture and delta ecology also have a high importance.
The resulting agreements, part of the federal re-licensing of dams and hydro developments, were accepted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last year and should hold for 50 years.
Seeing that 2015 was going to be the 4th year in a row that California would be in a drought situation, the managers of the snow melt did an outstanding job of saving every drop of water possible.
Therefore, on the SOUTH FORK AMERICAN RIVER, we happy rafters will see good water flows five days a week (no water release on Tuesdays and Wednesdays), mid-morning to mid-afternoon.
Also the South Fork water WILL BE WARM. The water for the South Fork is being released for from the Chili Bar Dam, just upriver from the Chili Bar Put-In, and that water is mostly water from rainwater, rather than snowmelt. The rainwater in the reservoirs is much warmer than snowmelt. We are not wearing wetsuits and it is still in May!
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article21479889.html#storylink=cpy
HISTORY OF THE MIDDLE FORK AMERICAN RIVER WATER FLOW:
The water flow on the Middle Fork American River comes from snowmelt and rain water stored in many reservoirs which drain into the Oxbow Reservoir, which is located above Auburn and Foresthill in a remote section of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
Negotiations between The Placer County Water Agency (PWCA), representatives from California State Parks, and the commercial river outfitters industry, resulted in an agreement which is fair in meeting hydropower needs and the needs of the general public for enjoyment of recreational activities on the Middle Fork.
The Middle Fork will have reliable water every Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day Weekend, plus every Tuesday starting with June 30th, and every Friday starting with July 3rd, through September 7th.
For up-to-date water flow information go to our River Flows page which has links to the California Department Resources for the latest information on American River whitewater river flows.