Within the rate submission was a detailed outline of the Natomas water canal along with photos of the Natomas Dam on the South Fork of the American River, the New York Ravine wooden siphon, and other pictures detailing the canals and flumes. The detailed history of the Natomas canal ownership along with a complete inventory of the structures submitted with the application for higher water rates gives a glimpse of this important gold rush era water works project.
Invariably, whenever the Bureau of Reclamation releases water stored behind Folsom Dam during the winter before the reservoir is full, people across the region accuse the Bureau of mismanagement, incompetence, and wasting water. The management of Folsom reservoir is complicated. But during the winter months, the main priority of Folsom Dam is flood control. That is why the dam was built in the first place.
As winter rain finally begins to fill Folsom reservoir from its historically low water level brought on by a prolonged drought, local residents will probably be just as quick to flush away their water conservation habits. The water conservation practices that Northern California residents temporarily adopted because of statewide drought reduction targets resulted in minimal disruption and sacrifice to our lives. That so many households easily reduced their water consumption by 25% to 50% over 2013 levels illustrates that suburban household’s waste more water than we thought. Even with Folsom Lake approaching near dead pool level in 2015, we were never pushed to conserve more water and there was never sense of urgency.
I started hiking from the Folsom Lake Peninsula campground down to the tip of this stretch of land. Usually underwater, the drought of 2015 had drained the lake down to 15% of capacity. This exposed lake bed that is rarely visited during normal lake levels. Like many people I tripped across sunken boats, abandon gold mines and a surprising number of dams.
For history buffs there is nothing closer to heaven than examining an old map. I share that fascination and also enjoy sharing old maps that I’ve found. Recently I uploaded a map published in 1910 by the American River & Natomas Water & Mining Company illustrating their network of canals. The map is generally topographically accurate and includes some place names not found on previous or later topographical maps.
I had always noticed Rose Springs and Rock Springs marked on maps that encompassed the south Placer county region we know today as Granite Bay. It wasn’t until Folsom Lake hit historically low water levels that what I think are Rose and Rock springs became apparent to me.
As opposed to drought shaming I decided to highlight the many properties near Folsom Lake who were going the extra mile to conserve water during our nasty drought of 2015. The Granite Bay area and the San Juan Water District retail service area have been singled out for some of the highest per capita water use in […]
In a May 18th op-ed in the Sacramento Bee Even in a drought, selling some water makes sense, Einar Maisch, General Manager of the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) argued his agency was merely fulfilling their environmental duty to release 12,000 acre feet of water into the American River so it can be sold to […]
Sometimes the craziest ideas actually become reality. In 1870 one man proposed tunneling underneath the Sierra Nevada mountain range to ship Tahoe lake water to San Francisco. While that may seem like an audacious scheme today, similar projects were already underway in the 19th century and parts of the tunnel project under the Sierras have […]
Even before Folsom Lake Dam was built and the reservoir filled, the north fork of the American River was supplying water to communities, farms and ranches in south Placer and northeast Sacramento counties. I recently found aerial photography from 1952 showing a free flowing north and south fork of the American River. Finally, I can […]