Category Archives: Uncategorized

OPINION: How Drought Affects the American River’s Salmon

Posted on Monday, October 4th, 2021


Stop and ponder this for a moment: In the American River passing through the Sacramento metroplex, giant fish swim by after surviving three or more years in the wild Pacific Ocean. These are our native fall-run chinook salmon. For thousands of years — long before there was a Sacramento — they have migrated from the American River to the Pacific Ocean and back on a three- to four-year cycle.

These fish are the basis for commercial and recreational salmon fishing in California and all across the West Coast. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California’s commercial and recreational salmon fishery generates more than $500 million in revenue annually. If you buy wild-caught salmon at a restaurant or farmer’s market in California, it may have originated in the American River or another Sacramento River tributary.

Sacramento is blessed to be one of the few major metro areas in America with a wild salmon run in our midst. What does this mean? It means that amid our highways, neighborhoods and high-rise buildings, there remains an ecological cycle integral to our natural world. Because salmon are such a rich source of nutrients, their annual return to the river has fed humans, animals and even plants for millennia. It’s a cycle deeply intertwined with human health and prosperity.

Unfortunately, our salmon are suffering this year. These majestic fish — each over 2 feet long and weighing over 20 pounds as adults — have fought their way back to the Lower American River from the ocean only to find hostile spawning conditions.

Continue reading the full article in Comstock’s here.

Rich Desmond is a Sacramento County supervisor representing Carmichael and Ron Stork is a senior policy staffer for Friends of the River.

Water Forum Successor Effort – Plenary Meeting

Posted on Monday, September 27th, 2021

Water Forum Successor Effort – Plenary Meeting

Thursday, September 30, 2021, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm


5:30     Welcome and Introductions

5:45     Drought Actions: Investments in Climate Change Resiliency

             Presentation and breakout groups

7:00     Water Forum 2.0 Process Update

7:30     Adjourn

* Updated 9/29/21

Change Order

Posted on Friday, August 27th, 2021
The following change order for releases a Nimbus Dam was issued today:
Date           Time             From (cfs)      To (cfs)

 8/31/21       0001                700                600
Note:   Storage Conservation

Change Order

Posted on Monday, August 23rd, 2021
The following change order for releases at Nimbus Dam was issued today:
Date                 Time                  From (cfs)               To (cfs)

8/25/21            0001                      800                         700

Note: Conserve storage

Agenda Posted for Aug. 26 Water Forum Drought Conference

Posted on Monday, August 23rd, 2021

5:30 – 7:30 P.M.

Introductions and Disclosures
2. Western Drought – Regional Impacts
3. Water Forum Resolution on Drought Actions (Opportunity to Caucus)
4. Breakout Group Discussions on Drought Actions
5. Next Steps
6. Adjourn

*Please contact Ana Ayala at for virtual meeting login information.

Change Order

Posted on Friday, August 20th, 2021
The following change order for releases at Nimbus Dam was issued today:
Date                 Time                  From (cfs)               To (cfs)

8/22/21            0001                      900                         800

Note: Conserve storage

We’re Looking for a Senior Engineer to Join Our Team–deadline extended to 8/20

Posted on Monday, August 9th, 2021

The Sacramento Water Forum is looking for a Senior Engineer to join our team of dedicated professionals focused on the coequal objectives of 1) providing a reliable and safe water supply for the Sacramento region’s long-term growth and economic health; and 2) preserving the fishery, wildlife, recreational, and aesthetic values of the Lower American River.

This is a new position for the Water Forum. The Senior Engineer will be responsible for:

  • Working with an expert team of consultants to update the Water Forum Agreement and lead analysis on reliability of regional surface and groundwater resources, including the development of new purveyor-specific agreements.
  • Managing and providing scientific support for the Modified Flow Management Standard and water quality on the lower American River, including working closely with consultants, local, state, and federal agencies on decisions that impact the Lower American River.
  • Developing and maintaining catalog of Water Forum-related data, modeling, applications, reports, and information based on principles of open data management. Work with staff and consultants to develop performance measures and indicators of success.

Interested? You can get all of the details here. Be sure to act soon…. The application closes on August 20, 2021!


The drought is different this time. Everyone in the Sacramento region must conserve water

Posted on Sunday, August 1st, 2021


JULY 31, 2021 06:00 AM,

California is in the grip of another extreme drought. The consequences can be seen all over the Sacramento region and, unfortunately, the worst is yet to come.

We expect to see water levels in the American River this fall that may reach historic lows. This will be difficult not only for people who enjoy recreating in our scenic river corridor, but also for the salmon, steelhead and other native species that need water to survive and reproduce.

That’s why we’re urging everyone in the Sacramento region to start conserving water in earnest.

Earlier this year, local water providers urged residents to set a 10% water conservation goal. In line with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent announcement, we’re now calling for 15% conservation, and some, like the Fair Oaks Water District, are asking for more. This is a voluntary goal, but one we hope you’ll take seriously.

Water conservation is nothing new for the capital region. During the most recent drought of 2014-16, residents slashed water use by 25% on an annual basis — one of the deepest cuts achieved anywhere in the state. Most importantly, we achieved a large share of this reduction in the hot summer months, a difficult time to conserve.

It’s only five years later, and we’re asking you to do it again. This time, the cause is somewhat unexpected. Yes, we’ve had two dry winters in a row. But this year, with worsening climate change, we have even less water than many experts anticipated.

Continue reading the full op-ed here.

Ralph Propper is president of the Environmental Council of Sacramento, and Tom Gray is general manager of the Fair Oaks Water District. Both are members of the Water Forum.

Making the Best of the Poor Conditions in this Critically Dry Year

Posted on Friday, July 23rd, 2021

Dear Colleagues.

This is the first in a periodic series of blog posts that discusses the work of the Water Forum and its members to balance the coequal objectives of water supply reliability and environmental stewardship on the Lower American River. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or suggestions.

Making the Best of the Poor Conditions in this Critically Dry Year

By Jessica Law

Severe drought conditions are back in California. Unfortunately, that means the Lower American River is headed into what may be some of the worst summer conditions we’ve seen on the river in recent memory.

I won’t sugarcoat it. Conditions in the river will be bad. However, the Water Forum and our partners are working hard to ensure conditions are as good as they can possibly be, and to minimize harm to fish and habitat.

What to expect in the coming months

PHOTO CREDIT: DWR, Lower American River 2014

As you may have seen on the news, we began this year with a near-normal snowpack. In most years, the snowpack melts and feeds our lakes and rivers. This year, the snowpack disappeared in the span of several weeks, soaking into the dry soil or evaporating—perhaps foreshadowing what may turn out to be the case study for climate change impacts on our water supplies and environment.

Because of the disappearing snowpack and lower storage in Folsom Reservoir from a dry 2020, we can expect to see river flows fall to 550 cubic feet per second (cfs) at Hazel Avenue this summer. That’s barely above the 500 cfs minimum established in the Water Forum’s flow standard, which the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is implementing. For reference, flows right now are around 1,000 cfs. So we have big changes coming.

People often think that river flows are the most important factor for fish survival. But, in fact, temperature is the greatest factor. Low flows mean warm water. This summer, temperatures in the American are 71 degrees on average, which is above the 68-degree maximum target for healthy salmonids. While that won’t kill salmon and steelhead outright, it may cause chronic health problems that could lead to death for some fish.

Addressing the challenges

Since early this year, as the reality of these critically dry conditions emerged, the Water Forum has been working closely with Reclamation and state water managers by providing technical data and recommendations to help inform Folsom operations and statewide water supply decisions.

Our overarching goal is to end 2021 with the best possible conditions in Folsom Reservoir and the Lower American River, in case drought continues next year.

One of the most important steps we’ve taken so far is to work with Reclamation, which manages Folsom Reservoir, to preserve cold water in Folsom Reservoir for the fall Chinook salmon run. This includes setting a storage planning goal of 200,000 acre-feet this fall, ensuring access to stored water for municipal agencies, whose intakes become threatened when water levels drop to 110,000 acre-feet. This shared goal with Reclamation will be challenging to achieve, but I am confident that Reclamation will get there.

Also, Reclamation has agreed to evaluate a bypass of hydropower production and instead release water from the lowest river outlets in the dam, providing access to the coldest stored water during fall months. This will help keep river temperatures as cold as possible for the fall salmon run. We’re aiming for 58-degree water temperatures in fall. Again, that’s above the desired maximum of 56 degrees, but close enough to avoid acute mortality to salmon.

Water Forum members are also taking action. For example, as part of the Water Forum Agreement, water providers are reducing surface water diversions from Folsom Reservoir and the American River. They are shifting to groundwater to the greatest extent possible to reduce reliance on the river and sharing water with communities typically dependent on Folsom Reservoir for their supplies. After 20 years, of sustainable management, our groundwater supplies are stable and ready to serve as a drought buffer.

Water providers through the Regional Water Authority are also asking customers to conserve water by at least 15 percent. Even though water supplies for this year are expected to be OK, conservation is an important element in a dry year like this one. Every drop truly does count, and we need everyone’s help.

We learned a lot from the severe drought of 2014-17. It’s unfortunate we find ourselves back in these conditions again so soon. The upside is that we’ve gotten smarter, there are lots of dedicated people working hard on the problem, and we know what we need to do to get through times like these.

You can find water conservation tips and information about rebates at


MEDIA STATEMENT: Sacramento Region Supports Governor’s Call for Conservation

Posted on Thursday, July 8th, 2021

Sacramento, Calif.The following statement was issued today by Jessica Law, Executive Director of the Water Forum, and Sean Bigley, Board Chair of the Regional Water Authority, in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order expanding the emergency to nine additional counties, and asking the public to voluntarily conserve 15 percent.

“The Governor’s announcement today underscores the severe drought conditions throughout California and in the Sacramento region.

“Sacramento-area leaders across the region’s major municipalities yesterday issued a news release imploring the public to increase their conservation efforts, and we support the Governor’s call for a voluntary 15 percent reduction.

“We understand that the public has continued to conserve since the last drought, and we applaud those efforts. Now, we are asking residents to do more. Increasing conservation this summer will help the environment of the Lower American River and decrease the potential for water shortages in 2022 if drought conditions persist through this winter.

“There are many easy and quick water-saving actions that can be taken today, such as dialing back sprinklers by two minutes (while continuing to water your trees), making sure sprinklers and drip irrigation run in the morning to minimize evaporation, adding mulch to conserve moisture and fixing household leaks.

“Also, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of the many rebate programs available to help with downsizing or replacing a thirsty lawn with beautiful low-water plants or upgrading to efficient irrigation and fixtures.

“You can find more water-saving tips, information about rebates and landscape watering guidelines at”


The Sacramento Water Forum is a diverse group of business and agricultural leaders, citizen groups, environmentalists, water managers and local governments working together to balance two co-equal objectives: to provide a reliable and safe water supply for the Sacramento region’s long-term growth and economic health; and to preserve the fishery, wildlife, recreational, and aesthetic values of the lower American River. Learn more at

The Regional Water Authority (RWA) is a joint powers authority representing 20 water providers serving 2 million people in the greater Sacramento region. Formed in 2001, its primary mission is to help its members protect and enhance the reliability, availability, affordability and quality of water resources. Learn more at