What’s up with the dramatic decline in release flows from Weber Dam? In July, EID’s online charts show they released less than 1 cubic feet per second. This is a dramatic decline compared to previous years. In 2008, July flows were 3.95 cfs; in 2009, 3.71; 2010, 4.32; and 2011, 4.52. In other words, this July EID did not even release one-quarter as much water from Weber Dam as they have averaged during July in the past four years.
Some may believe this is because Weber Reservoir has less water stored than in previous years. To the contrary, the volume of water now stored in Weber Dam is now greater than at any time in the past four years. Again, from EID’s online data, here are the volume totals at the end of July for each of the past four years: 2008, 626 acre feet; 2009, 821; 2010, 923; 2011, 1056; 2012, 1077.
So EID simultaneously has record high storage behind Weber Dam and record low releases. I think there’s a good story there for your paper to investigate.
Editor’s note — According to District Counsel Tom Cumpston and Operations Manager Tom McKinney, minimum flow releases from Weber Dam are governed by the El Dorado Irrigtion District’s water rights and a 2003 agreement with the California Department of Fish and Game. There is a formula for calculating each month’s releases, based on inflow the prior month, and there is a minimum of 1 cubic foot per second, even if the formula produces a lower number. Due to the lack of inflow, the possibility of a dry year next year, and the use of other water supplies at Folsom Reservoir, releases have been kept to the minimum this year, according to Communication Director Mary Lynn Carlton. EID Hydrographer Bill Slightam confirms actual releases have not been below 1.0 cfs this year, Carlton wrote, adding, “The contrary data on the Web page is a result of the technical limitations of the recording instruments.