Home>Articles>Facing Dry Year, CA State Water Board is Draining California’s Folsom Lake Reservoir

Folsom Dam. (Photo: Bureau of Reclamation California-Great Basin)

Facing Dry Year, CA State Water Board is Draining California’s Folsom Lake Reservoir

‘The State has been holding Folsom Lake artificially low at just under 400 feet for months now’

By Katy Grimes, May 24, 2021 2:15 am

Following the Globe article Friday about the state draining reservoirs even with the dry year California is facing, we noted that California’s largest reservoirs less than two years ago were absolutely teeming with water from 107% to 145% of average. Water expert Kristi Diener said California’s reservoirs held enough water in 2019 for everyone who relies on them for their water supply, for 7 years.

A longtime friend of the Globe, Graig Gottwals, an attorney and professional bass fisherman, reported another infuriating aspect of the draining of California reservoirs – specifically Folsom Lake in the Sacramento region.

“I’ve lived near and bass fished Folsom for 17 years now,” Gottwals said. “Beginning roughly 10 to 12 years ago, the state decided that whenever the lake dropped under 400 feet in elevation, boaters had to abide by a 5 mph speed limit.  This was for purported safety reasons – more of the bubble wrapping of America.”

Gotwals said this is insane and actually stupid. “I suspect the real reason was that the State didn’t want to have to continue to mark hazards on the lake below a certain level so they just decided to stop doing their job once the lake got below some arbitrary level.”

He says the lake is below 400 feet for a few months in nearly every year. “And just like on any lake, responsible boaters simply stay in the river channels to run around. Clear Lake, Oroville, and Shasta get low too – but the state (Oroville), feds (Shasta) and Lake County (Clear) don’t put speed limits on those lakes. Granted, Folsom is more hazardous due to all of the rocks, but it is an ignorant move that angers we fishermen and other recreational users off to no end. We all buy $225 annual passes that effectively become useless once the lake goes 5 mph.”

“But I’ve never seen it below 400 feet in MAY. And now they are saying that it likely will not hit 400 feet at all this year. Again, to my knowledge this has never happened.  What is worse is that the State has been holding Folsom artificially low at just under 400 feet for months now.”

You can see that here:

Folsom Lake water flows. (Photo: cdec.water.ca.gov/)

This is a historical problem in California with the State Water Resources Control Board. In 2015, the Sacramento Bee reported that the lake still was be drawn down to historically low levels during the summer “as part of a complicated plan to rescue the endangered winter-run Chinook salmon.” However, the Bee reported “the reservoir is being drained more slowly for the time being ‘to provide peace of mind to everybody who’s watching this,’ said Les Grober, assistant deputy director of the State Water Resources Control Board. “Everybody’s very concerned about Folsom.”

This is part of the state’s “temperature control plan” for the Chinook salmon. But it seems there are consequences to this plan:

“Keeping more water in Shasta creates a slew of other problems. It’s depriving farmers of more than 200,000 acre-feet of water during the height of the growing season. It also has led to more water being drained out of Oroville and Folsom to prevent salt water from intruding on the environmentally sensitive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the hub through which billions of gallons of water are pumped to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.”

Red flags should have triggered millions of Californians over this, as the Bee reported:

Officials have said Folsom Lake levels likely will fall to 120,000 acre-feet by the end of September. That’s well below last year’s record low of 150,000 acre-feet. An acre-foot is almost 326,000 gallons.

In the Sacramento region, more than 200,000 people rely on water drawn from Folsom Lake, including residents in Folsom, Roseville and portions of Granite Bay, Fair Oaks, Citrus Heights and Orangevale. Officials in the region have expressed fears that a draw-down to 120,000 acre-feet would cut into the margin of error, bringing the lake below levels at which the valves that deliver that water would work.

“Folsom’s going to be a true symbol of ‘we’re all in this together,’ ” said water board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus at a board meeting Tuesday.

“Whatever amount of water comes in is then released later in the day,” Gottwals said. “The Folsom Lake Marina is reporting that they doubt the speed limit will be lifted this year.”

“Is this for environmental reasons and/or incompetence? I suspect it is but there is also a good degree of anger over the fact that El Dorado County is conducting a water intake project on the lake. There is more than a little speculation that they are the ones who’ve convinced our state to keep dumping much needed water from Folsom. They vehemently deny this.”

See here for pictures, opinions and the project manager’s contact number. “The fact that they can hold that lake this low in a drought is really angering.”

Craig shared one more related issue on Oroville: “It is now projected to be the lowest since 1977.  And of course, all of this after we were full to the rim 2 years ago.”

According to forecasted storage for Lake Oroville, summer water levels are expected to drop below the record low of 645 feet set in September of 1977.

As of Friday, May 21 Lake Oroville is at 718 feet above sea level. The water is forecasted to hit its low point during October.

Source: https://krcrtv.com/news/local/disappearing-lake-oroville-forces-130-houseboats-to-be-pulled-from-the-water.

It was only in 2017, after an extremely wet winter, mass quantities of water tore a hole into the Oroville Dam spillway, threatening 200,000 residents of the region with flooding.

When water is let out of reservoirs and disappears downriver and out to sea, water consumers have a difficult time taking the state order to conserve water seriously. Because anything water consumers conserve is not held. Many Californians want to know why.

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18 thoughts on “Facing Dry Year, CA State Water Board is Draining California’s Folsom Lake Reservoir

  1. One more notch in the belt of the environmentalists in this state. Stop the building of reservoirs. Stop the harvesting of forests. Stop the building of new highways. Stop the drilling of oil in the ocean. Stop the drilling for gas. Mandate electric vehicles. These idealistic over-educated idiots that live in gated communities and have not a clue about real life have turned our California State House into a Whore House!
    GET ACTIVE or stay a sheeple.

    1. Elsewhere, I had estimated the charging power supply required for all these electric cars. It was in the gigawatts. That means bringing back those evil nuclear power plants and then some (about 100 fold), or completely blanket the Mojave Desert with solar farms since tortoises can’t afford lawyers.

  2. If their is not an emergency for us to be saved from then how can Newsom be our savior? He needs this emergency to perpetuate the lie about climate change. Without climate change the no oil all electric agenda would die.

  3. I katie

    I am working with folks trying to stop endless amounts of water being provided to illegal and legal weed grows in Northern CA. Our intelligence indicates why they are draining the reservoirs. This is the Green Party agenda. CA is ground zero for execution of global Green agenda in the U.S. Their excuse for draining the reservoirs is that a percentage of water (I believe it is 50%) must be allocated to fish. Therefore, according to the state of CA, half of reservoir water must be recycled back to the ocean. I can put you in touch with the person who lives up there who is knows all the deets about the fake water crisis being created by the CA Greens.

  4. We need a PAC to draft a ballot Proposition that will make the California state water board at least partly ELECTED instead of entirely appointed. Give the power back to the people of California to determine how to manage their own lives and communities.

  5. Look at this. It is CRIMINAL. We can’t have it. And these leftists are purposely punishing those in conservative areas. It’s been going on for years and years. And years. What do you think the water cutbacks for farmers was all about?

  6. Parched Serfs
    Tick tick….standard of living….poof.
    No grass, no plants, no frosty cubes for margaritas. sponge baths all around, bowing to odd /even daily edicts creating untenable sacrifice-
    Will you finally crack?

  7. “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”
    H.L. Mencken

  8. “Folsom’s going to be a true symbol of ‘we’re all in this together,’ ”

    Who’s “we?” Us and the fish??? Seems LGTQ (or whatever), BLM, etc. have some competition now for equity (not equality mind you) under the law. Gads! What a nutty state this has become.

    1. Yeah, no kidding. And was ‘water board Chairwoman’ Felicia Marcus rubbing her hands together diabolically as she was saying that? Which makes me wonder, would we hear her say “Oh my beautiful wickedness!” if someone accidentally slopped some of that precious water on her?

  9. Felicia Marcus backgrounder from https://waterforfood.nebraska.edu/meet-our-people/felicia-marcus

    Executive Summary : “…In the non-profit world, she was the Western Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council and the EVP/COO of the Trust for Public Land. ”
    Appointed by Governor Moonbeam, aka “Jesuit Jerry” Brown…
    Translation : She’s a progressive “green”…here’s your proof : “while promoting progressive policies and greater public engagement.”

    “Felicia Marcus is an attorney/consultant who has served in positions in government, the non-profit world, and the private sector. She is currently the Landreth Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Water in the West Program. She is also a member of the Water Policy Group, an international network of current and former high level water officials spanning six continents that advises on water policy (http://waterpolicygroup.com). In government, Felicia was most recently Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, with responsibility for drinking water, water quality, and water rights. As Regional Administrator of the U.S. EPA Region IX she was responsible for the range of environmental issues under EPA’s jurisdiction. Prior to that, Felicia headed Los Angeles Department of Public Works dealing with wastewater, water and solid waste recycling, stormwater management, and other environmental issues. In the non-profit world, she was the Western Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council and the EVP/COO of the Trust for Public Land. Throughout these roles she was known as an adept leader of large institutions while promoting progressive policies and greater public engagement. She is active on numerous volunteer boards, including the Daugherty Global Water for Food Institute and the Sustainable Conservation Advisory Board, and has received many awards for her work and approach. She has a JD from NYU School of Law, an AB cum laude in East Asian Studies from Harvard College, and attended Hong Kong University on a non-degree Rotary Fellowship.

  10. Here’s a recent letter from the same National Resources Defense Council that Felicia Marcus is/was involved with….

    https://www.nrdc.org/experts/doug-obegi/vas-are-bad-deal-californias-fish-and-wildlife

    These “greens” value fish over people, and end up killing the very fish they purport to want to save, because they sue to prevent active management of the environment, thereby creating the unhealthy environment for the fish…

    They are mentally ill, emotionally driven, devoid of logic and BAD MANAGERS of public assets….

  11. Wow. Very good stuff on Felicia Marcus. And also YIKES, because she is bad news of course. I knew her name sounded familiar and it must have been because of her time at L.A. Dept of Public Works. Anyway, you’re absolutely right in what you said above about progressive greens like Ms Marcus. I’d say “unintended consequences” should be her middle name but I’m not sure the consequences are unintended. And by the way, apparently California is jam-packed with such people.

    1. And she and her corrupt ilk are responsible for this tripe website that I just heard advertised on iHeart radio :

      http://www.saveourwater.com

      A 2009 collaboration from the Association of California Water Agencies and the California Department of Water Resources…

      How many effing water agencies does this screwed up state NEED??? Or, is this shell game part of Jesuit Jerry’s depopulation scheme???

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