American Whitewater 2021 CA Recreational Releases

Hi All,

That time of year again when I start up the rec flow boof thread! I’ll start with some opportunities on NF Feather and PIT 4&5. As always check back throughout the year for other release schedules - I’ll post them as I get them!

Freshet flows AKA pulse flows are typical requirements of a hydropower license to maintain the river channel. These flows mimic the magnitude and timing of runoff associated with rain and snowmelt events that occur within a natural hydrograph. They maintain the river channel, transport sediment, build and maintain meadow systems through flooding and deposition of fine materials and they can trigger biological processes. But for our purposes they can also provide opportunities to boat!!! Here are some opportunities on NF Feather and Pit 5 when PG&E releases required pulse flows!


Rock Creek Dam:

On 2/28 at approximately 1:00 am. Start of 1000 CFS pulse flow.

On 2/28 at approximately 1:00 pm. End of 12 hour 1000 CFS pulse flow.

Cresta Dam:

On 2/28 at approximately 6:00 am. Start of 1000 CFS pulse flow.

On 2/28 at approximately 6:00 pm. End of 12 hour 1000 CFS pulse flow


March 5, 2021- begin ramping up to 1500 CFS

March 6- March 7- Maintain peak flow of 1500 CFS

March 8- March 12- begin ramping down, flows will decrease to ≈ 1348 CFS

March 12- March 17- next ramp down, flows will decrease to ≈ 1132

March 17- March 22- next ramp down, flows will decrease to ≈ 920 CFS

March 22- March 26- next ramp down, flows will decrease to ≈ 708 CFS.

One final note – the savvy opportunistic boaters may have noticed the gauge for PIT 4 which has been running at a flow of 2000+ cfs for the past month – PG&E reports the dual outage of their powerhouses should keep the flows boatable until 4/15/2021.

NF Feather below Cresta - APRIL 2021 Releases

Throughout the pandemic American Whitewater, managing agencies and Pacific Gas & Electric have been following a collaborative COVID protocol for scheduled recreational releases taking the lead from the local counties. We are happy to report Plumas County supports moving forward with planned boating flows for the NF Feather below Cresta provided paddlers continue to follow COVID guidelines. Paddlers can expect recreational releases of 750 cfs for the NF Feather below Cresta on April 10th and 11th.

Please take the time to review the following COVID Guidance provided by PG&E and Plumas County - happy paddling!

COVID Guidance:

Horseshoe Bend - San Joaquin River

Paddlers get your boating gear together for annual recreational flow releases on the Horseshoe Bend reach of the San Joaquin River. After nearly two decades of direct advocacy and engagement, American Whitewater is pleased to announce the fruits of our labor. In March 2021 Southern California Edison (SCE) announced they finally secured approval of Long Term Operating Rules for operation of the Big Creek 4 Hydroelectric Project on the San Joaquin River. These rules outline long awaited flow improvements that will begin this Spring. In a win for American Whitewater, managing agencies, and the North Fork Mono Tribe, SCE will now provide flow releases that restore more natural flow patterns that are both optimal for recreational paddling and protective of native aquatic species.

This year recreational flows will be provided the weekend of June 5th & 6th. Flows will range between 2500 cfs to 2000 cfs on Saturday and between 2000 cfs and 1600 cfs on Sunday.

Mokelumne - Tiger Creek & Electra 2021 Releases

Annually, in accordance with the negotiated 2001 License Order and Settlement Agreement for the Mokelumne River Hydropower Project, American Whitewater coordinates recreational releases with Pacific Gas & Electric, the Ecological Resource Committee including the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. These annual releases are determined by the water year type which is predicated on the forecasted inflow into the downstream Pardee Reservoir. This year’s water year type is Critically Dry which allows for recreational flows on Tiger Creek and Electra in May & June.

Scheduled recreational releases for 2021 are as follows:

Tiger Creek 700 cfs 10 am - 2 pm

May 14( Fri),15 (Sat),22 (Sat),23 (Sun),29 (Sat), & 30 (Sun)

June 5 (Sat),12 (Sat),19 (Sat), & 26 (Sat)

One caveat to remember is PG&E is still working on repairing the washed-out road from the take-out to the put-in along Tiger Creek. The good news is that PG&E has started on these repairs. The bad news is, unfortunately, this work will not be completed until July 2021. Paddlers will need to plan accordingly and use Highway 88 to Tiger Creek Road then drive down past the Tiger Creek afterbay to reach the put-in by vehicle.

Electra 700 cfs 10 am - 4 pm

May 29 (Sat), 30 (Sun)

June 5 (Sat), 12 (Sat)

Chili Bar Release Schedule Update

Heads up - the May bulletin 120 report from the CA Dept of Water Resources which forecasts the amount of water in the American River below Folsom Reservoir has determined the final water year to be Critically Dry. Pairing that with the Dry year from 2020 flows below Chili Bar will change to the Super Dry Schedule. So beginning this Friday we go back to flows only on Sat Sun and Mon until Memorial Day when it will change to Sat Sun Mon Thurs & Fri.

Super Dry Year is defined in the Chili Bar Hydropower License as “any CD year that is immediately preceded by a Dry or CD year or any Dry
year that is immediately preceded by any combination of two Dry or CD