2017 Recreational Releases


The Wettest Season on Record Begins

As everyone should know by now we are officially in the wettest season on record giving us a plethora of paddling choices throughout the year. We will also have some options that would otherwise be unavailable. As in the past I will try to post here the opportunities from the hydroelectric projects American Whitewater helped negotiate and implement throughout California starting of course with Slab Creek, Ice House, NF Feather & Pit 5. Keep in mind we have never seen a season like this and the flows schedules I share below are subject to change so keep checking back for updates.

South Fork Silver Creek below Icehouse Reservoir Class IV


June 9, 10, 11, 16 & 17 – 500 CFS

June 18, 23, 24, 25 – 400 CFS

South Fork American River below Slab Creek Reservoir Class IV-V


April 29 & 30 – Targeting 1100 – 1500 CFS
May 6, 7, 13 & 14 – Targeting 1100 -1500 CFS

Coloma Shuttle Service Available

Caveats for Slab Creek this year.

• Slab Creek Road was closed due to storm damage. SMUD has indicated with the presence of USFS & SMUD staff they will have these roads open for the six scheduled recreational flow days. STAY TUNED as AW clarifies what this means in terms of access on other days and exactly where the closure is (i.e. top of the road or lower)

• It is highly likely this year that recreational streamflows may be modified or suspended in the event the licensee determines expected inflows from SFAR into Slab Creek Reservoir are not controllable to 1500 CFS. STAY TUNED.

• On the Placerville side the road immediately preceding Mosquito Road Bridge is down to one lane until repairs can be completed due to runoff washing out the road, the culvert and underneath the retaining wall. THE USUAL PARKING SPOTS BY THE CULVERT ARE NOT THERE FOR USE. PLEASE DO NOT BE THE BOATER THAT BLOCKS TRAFFIC AT THIS BRIDGE.

• The gauge below Slab Creek has been washed out twice and is currently not expected to be replaced until later in the year when flow finally recedes to a level where SMUD is comfortable sending folks back out. Dreamflows is using a calculated stream flow.

North Fork Feather Rock Creek Dam to Rock Creek Powerhouse Class III-V


June 24 & 25 1600 CFS 10am-4pm
July 22 & 23 1200 CFS 10am-4pm
August 26 & 27 1000 CFS 10am-4pm
FEATHER RIVER FESTIVAL September 23 & 24 1000 CFS 10am-4pm

PIT 5 Class IV


August 5 & 6 1500 CFS
September 9 & 10 1200 CFS

Duration: 10 am - 4 pm

If you have been watching the gauge on this one, you probably have already figured out that there is something awry. Earlier storm events flooded the Pit 5 Powerhouse and it is off line. PG&E does not expect to see this fixed until late August. Which means you will see flows in the Pit 5 reach until then. So yes, there will be extra opportunity for the upper Pit 5 run, however, the same storm events have washed out the road to the lower run take-out. In other words, the Class IV stretch will be accessible to the Bridge in Big Bend. The take-out for the Class III section is inaccessible on the Pit 5 Powerhouse Road. Again stay tuned for more info as I get it.

Flows for the Molelumne River to follow soon!



SMUD can not control the flow to 1500 CFS and has therefore cancelled this weekends recreational flows. SMUD will have until May 31 to make up these flows.

Slab Creek Road is still in flux (K rails, visqueen covering slides etc.) and since there will be no SMUD or USFS personal on site - Slab Creek Road will be closed to vehicle traffic and gated at the top. Pedestrian access is open. SMUD will continue to work on the road and I will keep folks posted.

Below is the notice from the SMUD website

The weekend recreational flow event is canceled for Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30. In accordance with the FERC license, recreational streamflows may be modified when the expected inflows from the South Fork of the American River into Slab Creek Reservoir are not controllable to 1,500 cfs or when recreational flows at Slab Creek Reservoir Dam may cause spill from storage reservoirs within seven days of the recreational spill event. Both of these conditions exist.
Slab Creek Reservoir spill is currently about 4,000 cfs, and model forecasts indicate reservoir spill to continue above 1,500 cfs through the coming weekend. Additionally, Union Valley Reservoir’s spill gates will open this week to assure its elevation doesn’t exceed the State of California’s Division of Safety of Dam’s maximum elevation. This action will exacerbate the current spill situation at Slab Creek Reservoir. Given the current and forecast situations, this announcement reflects the final determination for this weekend’s event, and this event will be rescheduled to 5/20 and 5/21.
Forecasted inflows are expected to remain high with snowpack at 187% of average. Additionally, reservoir storage is 95% full. These conditions will continue to provide challenges in meeting future recreational flows. SMUD staff assesses the forward situation on a daily basis and is committed to provide recreational flows in accordance with the license. The next update to this post will be Monday, May 1.


Mokelumne Releases

Mokelumne Devil’s Nose Class V

There will be no recreational releases on Devil’s Nose this year because there is currently zero road access to Devil’s Nose. Panther Ridge Road, Ellis Road and Tiger Creek Road to Salt Springs are closed due to heavy storm damage. The local’s “side” roads are reportedly in the same condition - washed out. The USFS indicated they are prioritizing Ellis but have no immediate ETA on reopening. Additionally, in this big water year it is highly likely that flows will not be controllable to <2000 CFS during the rec flow period between May 13 & June 15 anyway. However, there should be flow opportunities on Devil’s Nose during spill cessation sometime at the end of June or mid July so I’ll keep in touch on road conditions.

Mokelumne Tiger Creek Class IV


Tiger Creek Road to the TC Powerhouse is now reopened for business!

May 20, 27, 28 & 29 Targeting between 1150 - 2000 CFS
June 3, 4, 10, 11 Targeting between 1150-2000 CFS

Duration: 10am-2pm

Mokelumne Electra Class II-III


Bored with C2G on the SFA? Electra will have 18 total days of recreational flow! PG&E will release at least 750 CFS though with the runoff expect higher flows on this reach too!

May 20, 21, 27, 28, 29 At least 750 CFS
June 3, 4, 10, 11 At least 750 CFS
July 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 At least 750 CFS


Latest on Slab Creek can be found here.

The record setting water year for California’s Upper American River Project has forced the cancellation of recreational flows for Slab Creek. At 200% of normal SMUD is unable to control flows over Slab Creek Reservoir.

But every cloud has it’s silver lining - given the snow pack we could see boatable flows on South Fork Silver Below Ice House through the rest of May.

Wood beta on Ice House from Trevor Croft with raftingmagazine.com is that except for one log in a flat section (i.e. can’t be missed) all wood has been cleared by this season’s high flows. This includes all the wood in the final canyon.


NF Feather Rock Creek

Sorry for the short notice but I was just informed the NF Feather releases for Rock Creek has been changed to June 3 & 4. That’s this Sat & Sun! Also of note - sixteen years in the making, the new Rock Creek access will be open for the first time this weekend. No more running across Highway 70! PG&E will be maintaining flows at 1100 cfs over the weekend.




October 7, 8, 28 & 29
Actual flow may vary depending on inflow but expect between 900-1250 CFS


Good news is the powerhouse is still out and Big Bend is expected to run 24/7 through August. However, with repairs to the Powerhouse on the calendar PG&E may not release expected recreational flows in September. The take-out for the Class III section is still inaccessible. I will keep folks posted.

Mokelumne - Electra Run

The remaining scheduled recreational flow days are as follows:

July 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 & 30
10am - 4pm

San Joaquin - Horseshoe Bend


Though this stretch is in play right now - AW starts negotiations this month to start a slower “spill cessation” regime which would become the norm in wetter years on Horseshoe Bend. If all goes well SCE will test “spill cessation” in August giving us some opportunity for rec flows. Stay tuned!


Last chance for recreational flow on Horseshoe Bend!

Photo by Paul Martzen taken 05/17/09 @ 3500 cfs


In high water years the dam that controls the flow to Horseshoe Bend on the San Joaquin will spill when water levels fill the reservoir. These flows are uncontrollable but usually when flows drop to a point that can be controlled Southern California Edison (SCE) makes use of these flows for power generation instead of letting it continue downstream. This leaves little opportunity for whitewater recreation.

This year, however, American Whitewater, San Joaquin Stakeholders and Agencies have negotiated with SCE to test better management of naturally occurring spill that hopefully will become part of long term operating procedures along with recreational flows provided by in season pulse flows in drier years

Anyway, during the last spill of this season SCE will test slowing down the rate of reducing flows (called ramping rate). This more natural flow regime benefits the native aquatic species while still providing whitewater boating opportunities and is referred to as spill cessation.

As I mentioned in my previous post we had hoped to do this test in August but nature had other plans - the last spill of the season is happening now!! Thus, Southern California Edison (SCE) has informed us that the San Joaquin Horseshoe Bend Spill Cessation test is happening earlier than anticipated (AS IN NOW!!!).

So expect a stretched out period of recreational flows during the next two weeks! SCE has provided us with the approximate flows for this spill cessation below. Start making your plans to get out and enjoy!

Date: CFS
7/17/2017 2873
7/18/2017 2759
7/19/2017 2467
7/20/2017 2266
7/21/2017 2003
7/22/2017 1902
7/23/2017 1801
7/24/2017 1711
7/25/2017 1549
7/26/2017 1484
7/27/2017 1296
7/28/2017 1107
7/29/2017 881
7/30/2017 655
7/31/2017 542
8/1/2017 45



I just got word from a boater who had a less than stellar time with his group on Horseshoe Bend when the flows dropped faster and sooner than expected - 1000 cfs to 300 cfs. 5 portages and long day. Not a situation that I would wish for anyone’s trip. My apologies and thanks to Tom for reaching out with a phone call to let me know what was going on!

I have put in a call to SCE to find out what happened as I see the flow jumped back up today. But I wanted to get the word out that these flows are entering the world of unpredictable as they near the end of spill cessation test - a lesson I plan to address with the group negotiating the long term operations of this project.


Horseshoe Bend Stage Discharge Study

Okay so I lied - there is another opportunity to get on Horseshoe Bend as SCE will be executing a Stage Discharge Study starting next Monday. They will start at 3500 cfs and slowly ramp it down over the next 5 days. Obviously, this is a faster ramp down than the Spill Cessation test so your best bet to insure that you are not on the river when flows drop out is to get on the river earlier in the week & watch the gages!



Upon consultation with State Water Resource Control Board and American Whitewater, PG&E has issued a work plan for the repairs of their facilities on PIT 5. Right now, it appears there is a good chance we will have whitewater flows from now until Mid-November with two caveats; the Pit 5 Powerhouse Road remains closed thus the J.B. Black Boat-Launch remains closed; work plans are subject to change thus flows are subject to change so consult the gages before you head out.

Expected Flows:

Now until Mid-September flows will remain around 2000 CFS

Mid-September to approximately Mid-November flows will be reduced to around 1100 CFS



Just got word from PG&E that flows will be approx. 400 cfs for the next two weeks. If AW gets any more info we will share.




PG&E has confirmed that they are changing the recreational flow days in October to 4 consecutive days starting Friday October 6 through Monday October 9 (Columbus Day Weekend). This is due to resource constraints brought on by a combination of winter storm damage to the facilities, roads and increased reliance on Pit 1 generation to make up for the outage of the Pit 5 powerhouse.

PG&E will start ramping up spill at 7:00 am on the 5th and it will be approx 1000 CFS by 6:00 am on the 6th. The peak will be between 1000 and 1150 CFS (inflow) and will remain until they ramp out of the spill at 4:00 pm on the 9th. It will take approximately 8 hours for the spill to be ramped out and back to minimum instream flows.

To summarize PIT 1 Recrational Flows will be:

October 6, 7, 8 & 9
1000-1150 cfs



I wanted to give paddlers a heads up that SMUD has started construction on the Slab Creek Powerhouse and Boating Flow Release Valve. This structure will allow SMUD to produce power, provide the license required instream minimum flows and will allow them to provide future recreational releases without having to coordinate spill with their reservoirs above Slab Creek Dam.

Please keep in mind that the flows you see now spilling over Slab Creek may or may not reach levels that provide boating opportunities. Earlier in the year, American Whitewater and the UARP Consultation Group made a request to shape these flows but SMUD did not commit to do so.

That being said, while this construction proceeds SMUD will be tentively spilling 24/7 to provide the required recreational flows below Chili Bar through November. If there is flow opportunity on Slab the current status from SMUD is Slab Creek Road will be open this weekend Sept 9 & 10. Pedestrians are allowed down the Construction Access Road only to the pedestrian bridge path. No foot traffic is allowed beyond the pedestrian bridge on the South Bank of the American River. The road will be closed during the week from Sept 11th thru Sept 15th and open again on the weekend.

For more information go to https://www.smud.org/en/about-smud/community/recreational-areas/UARP-conditions/

For Updated Road Conditions go HERE

I will post any new info that comes our way.


South Fork Feather Releases


American Whitewater has checked back with South Feather Water & Power Agency and flows have been finalized as follows:

“…firm date of September 28th for the flows to be at 400cfs for at least a 4 week period. It takes 3 full days to ramp the flow from it’s current rate to the final rate of 400cfs. The ramping will start on the 26th and will be ramped approximately 140 cfs a day. The channel should be at 400 cfs by the afternoon of the 28th.”




Once again, in an effort to fine tune their operations to provide future recreational flows required by a new license negoatiated with American Whitewater, agencies and other stakeholders, NID will release Canyon Creek recreational flows in September as follows:

“On September 13, 2017, Nevada Irrigation District (NID) is planning to begin drafting water out of French Lake into Canyon Creek. In our continued effort to develop and refine a method to implement future FERC license requirements associated with whitewater boating flows, NID will be using this draft event to practice targeting a recreation streamflow of 140 CFS in Canyon Creek below French Lake Dam. NID intends to begin the draft on September 13th, with the target recreation streamflow of 140 CFS anticipated September 14 - October 4, 2017.”

Last year NID gave us the following estimates of timing of flow:

 Approximately 30 minutes to reach Weil
 Approximately 3 hours to reach Faucherie
 Approximately 24 hours to reach Sawmill

I am confirming this timing as I write this and will post if anything changes.

Slab cr- put in rd gated on Saturdays


PG&E sent the latest info to American Whitewater this morning:

“The flows from Fordyce will remain unchanged until Monday 9/18-. As of this morning the flow at YB-200 is 347cfs. As the lake level continues to decrease we will see the outflow decrease as well. I would expect that the flow at YB-200 will remain over 300cfs during this week.”



PG&E plans to change flows on PIT 5 to approx. 1000 cfs this weekend. They anticipate flows in this range will last until late October before they are reduced to 350 cfs.

Below is the flow notice from our friends at PG&E:

This is a courtesy notification regarding the ongoing outage at Pit 5 Powerhouse caused by flooding last winter. PG&E plans to return the first of the four units at Pit 5 Powerhouse to service this Saturday, October 7, 2017. Flows past Pit 5 Diversion dam are currently ~2,000 cfs. Once Unit 1 is brought back online on Saturday, flows will decrease to ~ 1,000 cfs. Please use proper precautions if recreating on or near this section of the Pit River. As the necessary maintenance continues, PG&E anticipates returning Unit 2 to service in late October. Once Unit 2 is brought back online in late October, the spill at Pit 5 Diversion should end and flows through the Pit 5 reach should return to close to normal IFR of ~350 cfs (depending on weather and hydrologic conditions). Unit 3 and 4 are scheduled to return to service in November – December, depending of the extent of repairs needed. Pit 5 Powerhouse Road and J.B. Black Powerhouse Boat Put-In will remain closed to the public as work continues into late November/early December.



American Whitewater contacted SMUD for the protocol on access to Slab Creek. Until further notice, recreational boaters who want access to Slab Creek Dam Road and Slab Creek Boat Ramp Road during the construction of the powerhouse and boating flow valve release need to contact SMUD as follows:

WEEKDAYS - Contact SMUD at least 2-3 hours before you want to paddle.

SATURDAY - Contact SMUD on the FRIDAY before you want to paddle. (The preferred meet time for access the following Saturday is 10 am.)

SUNDAY - Road will be open.

Contact Info - Dave Crespo at 916-718-4450

While you enjoy these flows please remember the project managers & engineer have and continue to be very accommodating to the paddlers getting on the river - make sure when you see them to give them your thanks! That would be Bill Collins, Dave Crespo and Tracy Asher.

Also, when all is said and done SMUD has a job to complete so please do not be that paddler that ruins the good will for everyone - OBSERVE THE POSTED CONSTRUCTION SPEED LIMIT OF 10 MILES PER HOUR!

Below is the detailed note from SMUD Enjoy!

Mon-Fri: Access is available by providing at least a couple of hours advance notice. A SMUD representative will then meet the boaters at the North Canyon Gate of Slab Creek Reservoir Rd. and will be escorted down to the ‘crow’s foot’ where boats and gear will be off loaded and hand-carried down the Lower Construction Access Road to the put-in. After unloading, vehicles will be brought back up to the North Canyon gate and parked outside the gate for retrieval at the conclusion of the boater’s run on the Slab Creek Reach. From time-to-time, when our contractor is making high volume equipment or material deliveries, access may be closed off for the duration of those transit moves (typically just one or two shifts in a row). There is NO PUBLIC ACCESS WEST OF IOWA CANYON CREEK confluence with the SFAR.

Saturdays: Effective immediately and continuing through the end of December, our Design/Build Contractor will be working Saturdays at the jobsite. Because of limited communication channels, whitewater boaters wishing to access the boating put-in or flat water kayakers wishing to access the boat ramp on Saturdays need to call me on the Friday before arriving for Saturday boating to allow me time to arrange for a SMUD escort to be at the North Canyon gate at a designated time. Escort rules and possible closure due to elevated construction traffic per the Mon-Fri rules also apply on Saturdays. Boaters need to be considerate of the SMUD staff providing escort services on Saturday’s by arriving before or at the time arranged the previous Friday. Impromptu or otherwise unscheduled visits to the Slab Creek reach on Saturdays won’t be accommodated. Advance notice IS required for Saturday access.

Sundays: No construction work is currently scheduled for Sundays at the South Fork Powerhouse site. The North Canyon gate will be open for private vehicles. Access to the boat ramp is from the crow’s foot/upper landing area. Access to the whitewater boating put-in will be by foot, hand-carrying kayaks and/or rafts to the put-in from the crow’s foot/upper landing area. Parking is allowed at the crow’s foot/upper landing area on Sundays, however boaters are cautioned NOT to BLOCK the gated access road to Slab Creek Dam and Gatehouse at the east end of the crow’s foot/upper landing. If SMUD needs access to Slab Creek Dam, any private vehicles found blocking access will be towed.

General Notes:

SPEEDING on Slab Creek Reservoir Road will not be tolerated – this is for the protection of both recreational boaters, SMUD staff and its contractors. The SPEED LIMIT on Slab Creek Reservoir Road is 10 MPH. Boaters found speeding or otherwise engaging in reckless driving will be advised to leave the site and may be subjected to bans or other restrictions over repeated violations of the speed limit.

WATCH FOR PEDESTRIANS! Slab Creek Reservoir Road is a popular site for dog walkers. All drivers should be alert for pedestrians walking down or up the road with their dog(s).