Do our rivers and lakes seem low this year?

Water levels, drought and warming of our lakes and rivers discussed by Betsy Brunner with SYRCL.

syrcl south yuba river citizens league drought

Editors Note: Have you been noticing that our rivers, lakes and reservoirs seem a little low this year compared to other years? Did it feel like got enough rain and snow this wet season?  Why does my favorite Yuba swim spot feel warmer and slimier right now compared to last year?  Chatter around the SEG office made a few us go on the search for facts and stats. How are we really doing when it comes to our water? Thankfully SYRCL came to our rescue and agreed to highlight a recent article they wrote on the topic of drought and our waterways. Below is a short preview and link to that article. -Harry

On April 28, 2021 the Nevada Irrigation District (NID) Board of Directors declared a drought emergency for their service area. Two weeks later Governor Newson expanded the State’s drought emergency to cover 41 of California’s 58 counties. Nevada County has been categorized within the two most extreme tiers for drought by NOAA. 

What does this mean for the South Yuba? First, it means that flows are below average for this time of year. According to Dreamflows, as of May 29, the South Yuba was flowing at around 45 cfs at Highway 49, which are levels usually not seen until the middle of summer. Second, lower water levels tend to mean warmer water, which make fish disease more transmittable and holds less oxygen in the water (this creates greater stress for cold water fish like trout). Third, warmer water favors bacteria such as E. coli by offering them a more hospitable environment. These conditions mean we need to be extra vigilant about caring for our river (like picking up after your pets and wearing reef safe sunscreen).

To learn more about the impacts of the drought and what you can do to conserve water, check out this article from the South Yuba River Citizens League:

betsy brunner sycrlBetsy Brunner is the Communications & Engagement Director at the South Yuba River Citizens League. Betsy moved to SYRCL after five years as a professor of communication in Idaho where she taught and wrote about the use of media in environmental advocacy.


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Other helpful links about the upcoming drought and need for water conservation: