Officials: Water releases won’t impact supply

By: Penne Usher Telegraph Correspondent
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All the water flowing from Folsom Lake is necessary during winter storms and it won’t mean a shortage down the road, according to officials. “We are releasing about 12,000 (cubic feet per second) that essentially manages the inflow with the storage capacity to accept inflows and protect downstream communities,” said Pete Lucero, public affairs officer for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. “We are doing a balancing act to manage in and out flows in order to have enough space to accommodate for rain and storm events.” Water released from the Folsom Dam flows seven miles downriver to the Nimbus Dam that re-regulates the flow into the American River toward Sacramento. December has been a wet one for the area which has received about 151 percent of average rainfall. About two weeks ago more than 30,000-cubic-feet per second of water was being released from Folsom Dam to make room for the influx of water coming from the American River upstream. “We have to let out water to reserve that flood space,” Lucero said. “One million acre feet is relatively small. We can fill and refill the lake several times throughout the winter.” The water releases are necessary to provide flood protection to the Sacramento area, he said. Folsom Lake provides water for the city of Folsom and the communities of El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park. El Dorado Irrigation District officials are not concerned of a water shortage come summer. “EID does not expect the USBR’s current releases to have any adverse effect on EID’s water supplies next summer,” said Mary Lynn Carlton, spokeswoman for EID. “In the winter, Folsom Reservoir is operated to provide flood protection for Sacramento. Releases similar to what USBR is doing now are not unusual — we just haven’t seen them much in recent years because of generally dry conditions.” The melting Sierra snowpack fills the reservoir in the spring, after flooding danger has eased. Right now, snowpack in the Central Sierra is 200 percent of normal for this time of year, and 72 percent of normal for the entire winter, Carlton said. When the area does not experience the heavy rains as it has this year, Carlton said there still hasn’t been a water shortage. “Even in dry years, the USBR has historically done a good job of filling Folsom Reservoir,” she said.