Water Right Modifications Threaten the South Fork American River (CA)
Please take the time to protect flows on the South Fork American River. Use this easy Action Alert here to tell the El Dorado Irrigation District (EID) Board that changing water diversion points along one of the most popular rivers in California is a bad idea.
EID has a new point of diversion proposal for Water Right Permit 21112 and is asking for public comment by October 20, 2022. Currently, under this permit, EID diverts 17,000-acre feet annually at Folsom Reservoir, the lowest elevation within their service area. Many may remember EID’s previous 2020 proposal that included upstream diversion locations at Slab Creek Dam or the White Rock Powerhouse. EID’s new proposal drops these diversion points but still proposes to add a upstream diversion and re-diversion at the District’s existing El Dorado Diversion Dam near Kyburz as part of their Water Right Permit 21112.
This current proposal still has the potential to impact over 50 miles of whitewater recreational flows on the South Fork American River one of the premier and most used year-around whitewater recreation waterways in the United States. Changes in flow levels could reduce opportunities to paddle reaches like the easily accessible Kyburz section or the iconic Golden Gate section. It could also impact scheduled recreational flows required by the hydropower licenses for Slab Creek and the year around recreational flows below Chili Bar.
In addition, the proposal does not clearly identify the impacts on the watershed and surrounding community. The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) must make a serious effort to define the criteria by which EID would decide when, how, and in what quantities to use the added upstream diversion under Permit 21112. EID must also describe how District water supply operations, as a whole, would change. Without this information the public cannot make informed decisions about these consequential impacts. For example, the DEIR must clearly address impacts of climate change and future growth intensifying the consequences for on water use, wildfire impacts, forest health and cascading impacts to threatened or endangered species.
Ironically, two decades ago, El Dorado County Water Agency on behalf of EID made the decision to divert water at only Folsom Reservoir. Basically, they made this commitment to protect recreational and environmental concerns on the South Fork American River in exchange for opposition groups to drop protest of water right 21112 before the State of California. Now it seems we need to remind the current EID Board and staff of that same commitment today.
Photo: Carson Watts on Kyburz by Trevor Croft Rafting Magazine
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