February Water-Year Forecast

Each month in the spring, the Department of Water Resources releases a prediction

(They call it a “Forecast”) of what the water situation will be for the rest of the water year. The February report is out[3. The raw data is here, but that gets updated with the most recent survey every month. The pretty report isn’t online yet, but will be here when it is: Feb 2015 Report].

Water Runoff for the American River below Folsom Lake[2. which is used to evaluate scheduled releases on the South Fork of the American River] is currently forecast to be 1.435 million acre-feet (MAF). Which, if predictions turn into reality would put us in another Dry year for this river basin[4. Highlights of the UARP River Flow Agreement]. But since the last 2 years were also Dry years, that pushes us into the Super Dry classification. While this might sound super bad, and in some ways it surely is, the reality is that water needs to be released for a wide variety of things including power generation and to maintain ecological saline balances where the Sacramento River starts to flow into the ocean.

Summer Rafting

So if it stays a Super Dry year, we’ll still have enough guaranteed release for terrific white water rafting five days a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day – only missing out on guaranteed raftable water on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Spring Rafting

Spring rafting will take a harder hit. With raftable flows only guaranteed on Saturdays during February and March. If things stay as they are, we’ll add in Monday and Sunday rafting options to the already existing Saturday rafting starting in April and lasting through the Friday of Memorial Day weekend (when we’ll pick up Thursday and Friday too).

An optimistic note

The next level up (Below Normal), starts off at just 1.700 MAF (so just 0.265 MAF to go), and once we hit Below Normal we’ll gain back Tuesday rafting. Plus, the 80% probability range says that we could get as much as 3.130 MAF which would throw us all the way into the Above Normal category . Granted, it also provides room to drop as low as 0.690, but even if it were to go that low, aside from the obvious problems everyone in California would be facing, the rafting outlook on the South Fork of the American River would stay the same. Because river rafting on the South Fork of the American River is already forecast to be as bad as it gets – which actually isn’t very bad at all