AUBURN, Calif. (September 9, 2016) — In a statement released earlier this week, the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation announced it has launched a new basin study for the American River Basin. The decision was applauded by the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA), El Dorado County Water Agency (EDCWA), Regional Water Authority (RWA), and Cities of Sacramento, Roseville, and Folsom, all of whom will partner with the federal agency to complete the study.
In addition to supplying water to a population of nearly a million people, water from the 2,140 square mile basin supports the Delta ecosystem and is home to endangered salmon and steelhead fish species. The study offers the agencies an opportunity to gather relevant data to diversify the region’s water supply portfolio, therefore increasing reliability. The study will also provide information to help the Bureau of Reclamation operate its Central Valley Project (CVP), in light of changing environmental conditions.
Drought, in recent years, has stressed statewide operations of the State Water Project and the CVP, resulting in an increased reliance on Folsom Reservoir by the CVP to maintain compliance with Delta Water Quality Objectives and the Federal Endangered Species Act. Folsom Reservoir reached record low storage levels in 2015 as a result.
Specifically, the local agencies propose studying an expansion of groundwater storage, the integration of existing upper watershed storage reservoirs to optimize current CVP storage, improvements in water use efficiency, the benefits of a Modified Flow Management Standard for the lower American River, a revision of flood-control rules based on weather forecasts, and how a diversion facility on the Sacramento River could reduce consumptive demands on Folsom Reservoir.
Completing a study for the American River basin has been a priority for local agencies for a number of years, and the request for the study received full, bipartisan support from the region’s Congressional delegation. Local and Congressional representatives praised the announcement:
Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-6): “I have long advocated for a comprehensive approach to the management of California’s water resources. A study of the American River Basin will improve the reliability of our water supply and help us better understand the effects of climate change. I’m extremely pleased that the Bureau of Reclamation is taking this important step.”
Einar Maisch (General Manager, PCWA): “The initiation of a study for the American River Basin will greatly assist water planning efforts for Placer County’s future prosperity, and that of the region.”
Bill Busath (Director of Utilities, City of Sacramento): “The study will help improve the sustainability of our water supply in light of 21st century challenges including climate change. We’re confident the study will provide recommendations to preserve the American River as an environmental treasure, and to meet the water supply needs greater Sacramento region well into the future.”
Richard Plecker (Environmental Utilities Director, City of Roseville): “We have a long and proud history of sound water planning, solid leadership, and innovative thinking in the Placer and Sacramento county region. This basin study and Reclamation’s continued support and partnership is absolutely pivotal in developing next generation water resiliency solutions.”
The American River Basin Study is funded by the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART program.