Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Folsom Lake Could Drop to Record Lows

San Juan Water District alerts public about low water levels

San Juan Water District is concerned about the water levels at Folsom Lake and is calling on the Bureau of Reclamation to stop gambling with the region’s water supply.

Planned levels at Folsom Lake this winter are leaving the region’s water supply in jeopardy. Reclamation, the federal agency overseeing water operations at Folsom Lake, continues to bring water levels down. When Reclamation dropped the Lake levels in the past, winter rainstorms saved the region’s water supply by filling the lake. This year, the region experienced the driest January through May on record and little rainfall is predicted this winter. Reclamation is taking a huge risk.

“The region is already feeling the impact. Boaters are required to empty their slips months earlier than normal,” says Shauna Lorance, general manager of San Juan Water District. “Impacts on recreation will seem like nothing if we reach dead pool. At dead pool, we can’t pull water out of Folsom Lake to provide water to our customers and must use other measures to do so.”

In December 2013, Reclamation plans on lowering the lake’s capacity to roughly 241,000 acre-feet. This is far less water than the 400,000 acre-feet the lake held going into 1976 and 1977 - the worst two-year drought on record. With the threat of drought looming, “Reclamation cannot continue to manage the water so carelessly,” says Lorance.

Current winter weather forecasts, climate change and water operations are all pointing toward one conclusion: if Reclamation continues to drop the lake as planned and the region doesn't have a wet winter, San Juan Water District customers will be in serious trouble next year.


“Reclamation is leaving no margin for error in this year’s plan, putting San Juan customers at risk,” says Lorance. “They are making a dangerous assumption that we will receive enough rain to refill Folsom Lake. We aren't willing to gamble with our customer’s water.”

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