American River Water Releases Will Be Reduced to 2,000 Cfs

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(Sacramento) As normally happens every year, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will reduce releases from Nimbus Dam just before the fall-run Chinook salmon begin to move into the lower American River.

The flows will be ramped down from 3,250 cfs on Friday, August 19, to 2,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) on August 21. The reason? “Storage conservation,” said Randi Field, Reclamation spokesperson.

The reduction in releases comes after Reclamation has all summer released high flows up 5,000 cfs for export from the Delta by San Joaquin corporate agribusiness interests and Southern California water agencies. As the Bureau continues to reduce releases into the river this fall, you can expect the river’s struggling fall-run Chinook salmon and steelhead to be imperiled by low, warm water conditions spurred by agribusiness and water contractor greed.

To make things more complicated, the Bureau on Thursday will temporarily decrease flows in the lower American River below Nimbus Dam from 3,750 cubic feet per second to 1,000 cfs to prepare the Nimbus Fish Hatchery weir foundation for picket installation.

“The fish weir structure is installed annually to guide spawning Chinook salmon into the hatchery fish ladder,” according to a Reclamation news release.

Then Reclamation will incrementally ramp up flows by approximately 1,000 cfs per hour back up to 3,250 cfs. – until the water agency begins to draw down the releases again Friday.

Confusing? That’s the way water is “managed” in the Big Ag and Big Money state of California. The Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources “manage” the flows of Central Valley rivers to the benefit of big agribusiness barons like Lynda and Stewart Resnick, the owners of The Wonderful Company — and to the detriment of fish and wildlife, including many endangered species.

To make things even worse, Governor Jerry Brown is rushing the completion of the planning for his Delta Tunnels project before he leaves office. The project, now named the “California WaterFix,” must be stopped because it would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other species. The government boondoggle would also imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

Folsom Dam, Folsom Reservoir and Nimbus Dam are located about 25 miles east of Sacramento, Calif., and are features of the Central Valley Project. Folsom Lake is currently holding 373,864 acre feet of water, 38 percent of capacity and 58 percent of average.

Daily information on expected flows in the American River can be found on the California Data Exchange Center website at or on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website at