The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has announced its plan to reduce flows in the lower American River in order to protect steelhead that will be spawning in January and February.
The reduction, which began earlier this week, saw releases from Nimbus Dam decreased from 1,100 cubic feet per second to 500 cfs over a three-day period.
The reduced flows will be sustained at a lowered rate “into spring” with water being impounded downstream behind Folsom Dam, Reclamation said, which is currently at 42% of the historical 15-year average.
The decision to reduce releases was made following a January 3 meeting between the American River Group and Reclamation.
Management of both the American River and the Folsom Reservoir has become a priority as the region’s dry conditions continue. The bureau said it might consider enacting water conservation measures and looking to other sources for water should conditions not improve in Water Year 2014.
Overall, Reclamation said the capacity of its Central Valley Project reservoirs is 11,360,000 acre-feet. Currently, however, the CVP reservoirs are storing just 4,395,000 acre-feet, or about 62% of the 15-year average for this date.
2013 was California’s driest calendar year since record keeping began, Reclamation said.
HydroWorld.com reported that Reclamation had announced decreased flows into Lake Mead in August 2013, also as a result of drought.