Topic: Hydropower



Hydroelectric power is generated by the ability to turn falling water into electricity and in California accounts for about 15 percent of the state’s power supply annually.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

Salmon hatcheries funded by U.S. government haven’t ended fish’s decline

Today, there are hundreds of hatcheries in the Northwest run by federal, state and tribal governments … The fish they send to the Pacific Ocean have allowed restaurants and grocery seafood counters to offer “wild-caught” Chinook salmon even as the fish became endangered. The hatcheries were supposed to stop the decline of salmon. They haven’t. The numbers of each of the six salmon species native to the Columbia basin have dropped to a fraction of what they once were, and 13 distinct populations are now considered threatened or endangered.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Residents question collateral from Unaweep Canyon hydropower plan

A few months ago, [Paul] Ashcraft and several of his neighbors at the highest point in Unaweep Canyon saw a plan proposed by Xcel Energy to build a hydro power plant that will help the company reach its renewable energy goals. The plan put a 75-foot dam holding back the edge of an 88-acre reservoir in Ashcraft’s front yard. The proposal also puts his neighbors’ homes and Colorado 141 underwater. The plan would move water between a reservoir on BLM land on top of the cliffs and a reservoir on private land on the valley floor.

Aquafornia news E&E News

The West, reliant on hydro, may miss it during heat waves

When California suffers a heat wave, it leans heavily on hydropower from the Pacific Northwest to keep the lights on. But that hydropower may not always be available when it’s most needed, as climate change is shifting the ground on which the West’s dams sit. Higher temperatures means snowmelt occurs earlier in the year and leaves less water available for power generation during the depths of summer. 

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Grid monitor warns of U.S. blackouts in ’sobering report’

The central and upper Midwest, Texas and Southern California face an increased risk of power outages this summer from extreme heat, wildfires and extended drought, the nation’s grid monitor warned yesterday. In a dire new assessment, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) described regions of the country pushed closer than ever toward energy emergencies by a combination of climate change impacts and a transition from traditional fossil fuel generators to carbon-free renewable power.

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Aquafornia news Law 360

States, green groups look to restart water rule challenge

Blue states, green groups and tribes that are challenging a Trump-era Clean Water Act rule are trying an unusual procedural move that could allow them to restart their case in federal district court and bypass an appeal that’s currently underway in the Ninth Circuit. The coalition is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to overturn a 2020 rule that restricted states’ and tribes’ authority to deny permits for projects such as pipelines under section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

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Aquafornia news Fox 13 - Salt Lake City

More reservoirs may run dry and the Great Salt Lake will continue to decline, state officials warn

More reservoirs across Utah may run dry and the Great Salt Lake will continue to decline, state officials warned lawmakers on Wednesday. During a briefing before the Utah State Legislature’s Natural Resources Interim Committee, lawmakers were told that 99% of Utah remains in severe or extreme drought…. A legislative commission [is] requesting a study on the idea of a pipeline to take water from the Pacific Ocean across California and Nevada into the Great Salt Lake.

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Aquafornia news Reuters

Severe drought could pose problems for US power grid this summer

The organization responsible for North American electric reliability warned energy shortfalls were possible this summer in California, Texas and the U.S. Midwest where extreme heat from a severe drought could cause power plants to fail. 

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Hydropower generation dipping on the Colorado River system

A large provider of Colorado energy says sagging hydropower production on the Colorado River system, which has raised concern over the long-term reliability of the power source in the West, has not had a significant impact here. Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, the largest hydropower customer on the Colorado River system, has received about two-thirds of its normal hydro supply this year. But only 8% of Tri-State’s total energy comes from the Colorado River Storage Project, known as CRSP, and so the reduction only accounts for about 3% of its total system, according to figures the company provided.

Aquafornia news CBS News

Lake Powell is vanishing with devastating consequences. But it’s bringing a former canyon back to life

Climate change is making the West hotter and drier, threatening the Colorado River system, including the man-made reservoirs of Lake Powell in Utah and Lake Mead in Nevada that provide water for 40 million people in seven states. The National Park Service has been forced to shut down 11 boat ramps at the Lake Powell recreation area, which draws millions of visitors. The critically low lake levels could soon cause the Glen Canyon Dam to stop producing hydropower for more than five million people in six states, forcing them to find alternative sources. 

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Far from Lake Powell, drought punishes another Western dam

The electricity generated [at Flaming Gorge Dam], in northern Utah near the Wyoming state line, helps keep the lights on across 10 states. It’s made possible by a dam that interrupts the Green River, which meanders into the Colorado River at Lake Powell hundreds of miles downstream before flowing southwest to Lake Mead — meaning as an Angeleno, I’ve been drinking this water my whole life. … The Biden administration said this month it would release an extra 500,000 acre-feet of water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir over the next year, as part of a desperate effort to stop Powell from falling so low that Glen Canyon Dam can no longer generate power.

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Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

The fight for clean energy pits San Francisco against the river rafting industry

But after 5 decades of shepherding countless groups down some of the world’s most iconic and challenging runs, [river rater Marty] McDonnell never expected to find himself in a mounting battle against the changing climate, the solar industry and the City of San Francisco. Although 2021 marked another dire year for the dwindling Sierra Nevada snowpack, it’s not California’s drought that worries McDonnell. Instead, it’s how hydropower is generated along the Tuolumne River and distributed downstream.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

California prepares for energy shortfalls in hot, dry summer

California likely will have an energy shortfall equivalent to what it takes to power about 1.3 million homes when use is at its peak during the hot and dry summer months, state officials said Friday. Threats from drought, extreme heat and wildfires, plus supply chain and regulatory issues hampering the solar industry will create challenges for energy reliability this summer, the officials said. … Large hydropower projects generated nearly 14% of the state’s electricity in 2020, according to the independent system operator. 

Aquafornia news Stanford Magazine

Dams help us. Dams harm us. Now, longtime adversaries are coming together to bridge that uncomfortable divide

From its headwaters in the Sierra Nevada, the Feather River flows some 3,600 feet downhill, where, in Oroville, it meets the tallest dam in the nation. Its path shows exactly why California geology is ideal for the production of hydropower. It’s physics. The higher the mountains, the faster the water falls. Hydropower dams capture this power and divert it through spinning turbines in nearby powerhouses that activate generators to produce electricity. But all this hydropower comes at a cost.

Aquafornia news KUNC

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Federal government rolls out ‘extraordinary actions’ to prop up Lake Powell

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced two measures [Tuesday] to boost water levels in Lake Powell, keeping them high enough to continue generating hydropower at the Glen Canyon Dam. Both moves are being framed as painful but necessary band-aids, cutting into reserves elsewhere in the region to stave off the worst effects of a decades-long drought that has sapped the nation’s second-largest reservoir. One measure will send water from upstream to help refill Lake Powell. About 500,000 acre-feet of water will be released from Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which straddles the border between Wyoming and Utah.

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Aquafornia news CNN

Lake Powell officials face an impossible choice in the West’s megadrought: water or electricity

Lake Powell, the country’s second-largest reservoir, is drying up. The situation is critical: If water levels at the lake were to drop another 32 feet, all hydroelectricity production would be halted at the reservoir’s Glen Canyon Dam. The West’s climate change-induced water crisis is now triggering a potential energy crisis for millions of people in the Southwest who rely on the dam as a power source. Over the past several years, the Glen Canyon Dam has lost about 16% of its capacity to generate power. The water levels at Lake Powell have dropped around 100 feet in the last three years.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Megadrought threatens California power blackouts this summer

The historic drought that’s choked off rivers and reservoirs from the Rocky Mountains to the California coast is threatening to strain power grids this summer, raising the specter of blackouts and forcing the region to rely on more fossil fuels. Many reservoirs that should be brimming with spring snowmelt show bathtub rings of dry dirt instead, including the largest one in the U.S., Lake Mead, which fell this week to a record low. Hydropower dams feeding off those reservoirs won’t be able to pump out as much electricity as they should, if they keep operating at all.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Blog: Follow along on our clean energy tour of the American West

Over the last century, cities including Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas reshaped the American West by building coal plants, hydropower dams and nuclear reactors to fuel their growth. Now those cities are on the verge of doing it again, only this time with solar panels, wind turbines, long-distance transmission lines and lithium mines. These proposals are igniting opposition from conservationists, tribal activists and rural residents looking to protect landscapes and ecosystems — and at times their way of life.

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Aquafornia news Redheaded Blackbelt

Blog: ‘Everyone knew it was coming’: Eel River waters continue to be diverted as PG&E granted annual license for the Potter Valley Project

No one was surprised by Thursday’s letter granting PG&E an annual license to run the Potter Valley Project until April of next year. And, while a last-minute mystery application did provide a few moments of titillating speculation, the enigmatic Antonio Manfredini failed to generate any real suspense. The 50-year license to operate the Potter Valley Project, which diverts water from the Eel River into the east branch of the Russian River to Lake Mendocino by way of a tunnel, a pair of dams and reservoirs, and a small hydropower plant, expired on April 14.

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Stumbling toward “day zero” on the Colorado River

The Colorado River Basin is inching ever closer to “Day Zero,” a term first used in Cape Town, South Africa when they anticipated the day in 2018 that taps would run dry. Lakes Powell and Mead, the Colorado River’s two enormous reservoirs, were full in 2000, storing more than four years of the river’s average annual flow. For more than two decades water users have been sipping at that supply, watching them decline. Long-term drought and climate change is making this issue potentially catastrophic.

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Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Environmental groups intend to sue PG&E over Potter Valley Project

The 100-year-old Potter Valley Project consists of two dams along Northern California’s Eel River. The upstream Scott Dam blocks salmon and steelhead from reaching prime spawning grounds, according to Alicia Hamann, the director of Friends of Eel River. Both fish are threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Friends of the Eel River are one of a handful of environmental groups planning to sue PG&E to seek protections for these dwindling fish populations.

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Aquafornia news The Union

‘How we get the water’: NID takes on management of South Yuba Canal, Deer Creek Powerhouse

The Nevada Irrigation District will begin managing the South Yuba Canal and the Deer Creek Powerhouse this month. The purchase technically helps NID diversify Nevada County’s energy sources, but the district’s purchase of the powerhouse is “ancillary more than anything” to the acquisition of the canal itself, Hydroelectric Manager Keane Sommers said. The canal services the residents of Grass Valley, Nevada City, their fire hydrants, the air attack base and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital — over 30,000 customers.

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Fishery groups plan to sue PG&E over Potter Valley plant and related Scott, Cape Horn dams

A coalition of fishery groups has formally notified PG&E that it plans to file suit under the Endangered Species Act, alleging the continued injury to once abundant federally protected salmon and steelhead trout as a result of operations at the utility’s aging Potter Valley powerhouse. The legal maneuver is part of an effort to expedite removal of Scott and Cape Horn dams, which pose a threat to vulnerable fish species in the Eel River and block access to hundreds of miles of prime habitat upstream.

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Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Colorado River Basin Map By Douglas E. Beeman

As the Colorado River Shrinks, Can the Basin Find an Equitable Solution in Sharing the River’s Waters?
Drought and climate change are raising concerns that a century-old Compact that divided the river’s waters could force unwelcome cuts in use for the upper watershed

Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, a key Colorado River reservoir that has seen its water level plummet after two decades of drought. Climate scientist Brad Udall calls himself the skunk in the room when it comes to the Colorado River. Armed with a deck of PowerPoint slides and charts that highlight the Colorado River’s worsening math, the Colorado State University scientist offers a grim assessment of the river’s future: Runoff from the river’s headwaters is declining, less water is flowing into Lake Powell – the key reservoir near the Arizona-Utah border – and at the same time, more water is being released from the reservoir than it can sustainably provide.

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2022
Field Trip - March 16-18

The lower Colorado River has virtually every drop allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139

Lower Colorado River Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - May 20

This event explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour. 

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

How Private Capital is Speeding up Sierra Nevada Forest Restoration in a Way that Benefits Water
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: A bond fund that fronts the money is expediting a headwaters restoration project to improve forest health, water quality and supply

District Ranger Lon Henderson with Tahoe National Forest points toward an overgrown section of forest within the Blue Forest project area. The majestic beauty of the Sierra Nevada forest is awe-inspiring, but beneath the dazzling blue sky, there is a problem: A century of fire suppression and logging practices have left trees too close together. Millions of trees have died, stricken by drought and beetle infestation. Combined with a forest floor cluttered with dry brush and debris, it’s a wildfire waiting to happen.

Fires devastate the Sierra watersheds upon which millions of Californians depend — scorching the ground, unleashing a battering ram of debris and turning hillsides into gelatinous, stream-choking mudflows. 

With Drought Plan in Place, Colorado River Stakeholders Face Even Tougher Talks Ahead On The River’s Future
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Talks are about to begin on a potentially sweeping agreement that could reimagine how the Colorado River is managed

Lake Mead, behind Hoover Dam, shows the effects of nearly two decades of drought. Even as stakeholders in the Colorado River Basin celebrate the recent completion of an unprecedented drought plan intended to stave off a crashing Lake Mead, there is little time to rest. An even larger hurdle lies ahead as they prepare to hammer out the next set of rules that could vastly reshape the river’s future.

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict.

Lower Colorado River Tour 2020
Field Trip - March 11-13

This tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Silverton Hotel
3333 Blue Diamond Road
Las Vegas, NV 89139
Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

Women Leading in Water, Colorado River Drought and Promising Solutions — Western Water Year in Review

Dear Western Water readers:

Women named in the last year to water leadership roles (clockwise, from top left): Karla Nemeth, director, California Department of Water Resources; Gloria Gray,  chair, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Brenda Burman, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner; Jayne Harkins,  commissioner, International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. and Mexico; Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River Commission.The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.

These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.

We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018:

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River Gary Pitzer

New Leader Takes Over as the Upper Colorado River Commission Grapples With Less Water and a Drier Climate
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River Commission

Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River CommissionAmy Haas recently became the first non-engineer and the first woman to serve as executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission in its 70-year history, putting her smack in the center of a host of daunting challenges facing the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Yet those challenges will be quite familiar to Haas, an attorney who for the past year has served as deputy director and general counsel of the commission. (She replaced longtime Executive Director Don Ostler). She has a long history of working within interstate Colorado River governance, including representing New Mexico as its Upper Colorado River commissioner and playing a central role in the negotiation of the recently signed U.S.-Mexico agreement known as Minute 323.


Lower Colorado River Tour 2018

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Western Water Magazine

The Colorado River: Living with Risk, Avoiding Curtailment
Fall 2017

This issue of Western Water discusses the challenges facing the Colorado River Basin resulting from persistent drought, climate change and an overallocated river, and how water managers and others are trying to face the future. 

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2019

This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Aquapedia background

Whiskeytown Lake

Photo Credit: Jenn Bowles, Executive Director

Whiskeytown Lake, a major reservoir in the foothills of the Klamath Mountains nine miles west of Redding, was built at the site of one of Shasta County’s first Gold Rush communities. Whiskeytown, originally called Whiskey Creek Diggings, was founded in 1849 and named in reference to a whiskey barrel rolling off a citizen’s pack mule; it may also refer to miners drinking a barrel per day. 

Aquapedia background

All-American Canal

As one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, the Imperial Valley receives its water from the Colorado River via the All-American Canal. Rainfall is scarce in the desert region at less than three inches per year and groundwater is of little value. 

Aquapedia background

Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam

The construction of Glen Canyon Dam in 1964 created Lake Powell. Both are located in north-central Arizona near the Utah border. Lake Powell acts as a holding tank for outflow from the Colorado River Upper Basin States: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

The water stored in Lake Powell is used for recreation, power generation and delivering water to the Lower Basin states of California, Arizona, and Nevada. 


Looking to the Source: Watersheds of the Sierra Nevada
Published 2011

This 28-page report describes the watersheds of the Sierra Nevada region and details their importance to California’s overall water picture. It describes the region’s issues and challenges, including healthy forests, catastrophic fire, recreational impacts, climate change, development and land use.

The report also discusses the importance of protecting and restoring watersheds in order to retain water quality and enhance quantity. Examples and case studies are included.


Restoring a River: Voices of the San Joaquin

This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an overview of the geography and history of the river, historical and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was agreed to.


Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (60-minute DVD)

Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick. 


Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (30-minute DVD)

A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.

Maps & Posters

Klamath River Watershed Map
Published 2011

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The map text explains the many issues facing this vast, 15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration; agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement, and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Maps & Posters

Truckee River Basin Map
Published 2005

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Truckee River Basin, including the Newlands Project, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe. Map text explains the issues surrounding the use of the Truckee-Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe water quality improvement efforts, fishery restoration and the effort to reach compromise solutions to many of these issues. 

Maps & Posters Colorado River Bundle

Colorado River Basin Map
Redesigned in 2017

Redesigned in 2017, this beautiful map depicts the seven Western states that share the Colorado River with Mexico. The Colorado River supplies water to nearly 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the country of Mexico. Text on this beautiful, 24×36-inch map, which is suitable for framing, explains the river’s apportionment, history and the need to adapt its management for urban growth and expected climate change impacts.


Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project provides an overview of the California-funded and constructed State Water Project.


Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water
Published 2006

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water provides an overview of the history of water development and use in Nevada. It includes sections on Nevada’s water rights laws, the history of the Truckee and Carson rivers, water supplies for the Las Vegas area, groundwater, water quality, environmental issues and today’s water supply challenges.


Folsom Dam on the American River east of Sacramento

Dams have allowed Californians and others across the West to harness and control water dating back to pre-European settlement days when Native Americans had erected simple dams for catching salmon.

Aquapedia background California Water Map

Hydroelectric Power

William R. Gianelli Powerplant at San Luis Reservoir. Hydroelectric power is produced when water released from a reservoir turns a turbine connected to a generator.  Gravity causes water to drop toward a turbine propeller. The falling water then turns the turbine, which produces power through the connected generator.

Aquapedia background

Yuba Accord and Yuba River

The Yuba Accord is a landmark agreement that balances the interests of environmental groups, agriculture, water agencies and hydroelectric operators relying on water from the Yuba River.  A tributary of the Feather River, the Yuba is located north of Sacramento.

Pieced together after two decades of lawsuits, the Yuba Accord allows for fresh water flows to support native fish while also providing water for hydropower, transfers and irrigation. The Accord took effect in 2008 after two years as a pilot project.

Aquapedia background Dams Shasta Dam

Trinity Dam and Trinity River

Though seemingly a long-way from California’s Central Valley, the Trinity Dam helps supply irrigation water for Valley farmers and for hydropower production.

Constructed in the far northwest of California in the 1950s, Trinity Dam and Lewiston Dam, just downstream, increased the storage capacity of the federal Central Valley Project by more than 2.5 million acre-feet.

Western Water Magazine

Making the Connection: The Water/Energy Nexus
September/October 2010

This printed issue of Western Water looks at the energy requirements associated with water use and the means by which state and local agencies are working to increase their knowledge and improve the management of both resources.

Western Water Excerpt Sue McClurgRita Schmidt Sudman

The Colorado River: Building a Sustainable Future
November/December 2009

Diverting water for farms and cities, generating hydro-electric power, supplying an ever-growing urban population and protecting endangered species have all shaped the development and management of the Colorado River we know today. How to sustain the system and build a resilient future for what is known as the “lifeline of the Southwest” is the task facing the region and the river’s multiple users.

Western Water Magazine

Turning Water into Power: Hydropower Projects Under Review
September/October 2005

Hydropower generation is prevalent in the West, where rapidly flowing river systems have been tapped for generations to produce electricity. Hydropower is a clean, steady and reliable energy source, but the damming of rivers has exacted a toll on the environment, affecting, among other things, the migration of fish to vestigial spawning grounds. Many of those projects are due to be relicensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Turning Water into Power: Hydropower Projects Under Review
September/October 2005


The vital importance of water in the West is a given. It is the basis upon which everything moves forward – the burgeoning subdivisions, the seemingly limitless acreage of fruits and vegetables and the remaining stretches of wilderness that support fish, fowl and wildlife. In addition to its life-sustaining properties, water, more specifically the force of moving water, plays a significant part of the nation’s power system by providing an inexpensive, reliable and renewable generation source.

Western Water Excerpt S. Joshua NewcomRita Schmidt Sudman

Shedding Light on the Link Between Water and Power in California
Sept/Oct 2001

Those on the California water insider track know all too well the fine line the state walks with regard to maintaining its water supply. Hydrologic conditions put California at the mercy of the weather and some are predicting this year could be the start of a dry cycle not just for the state, but the Southwest as a whole. Combine that with a regional dry spell in the Northwest and California’s power woes, and a potential recipe for disaster begins to solidify.