The DWR Bulletin 120 has been released for March 2013
The California Department of Water Resources has released their March 2013 Bulletin 120. It is a summary of the current water situation for the state of California, talking into account current rainfall, snow pack, reservoir storage, and predicted weather patterns for the upcoming months. The water shed that feeds most of the water where Rock-N-Water’s adventures take place is currently predicted to be at below normal levels1.
This is our first post in a while about water and how it may or may not affect the adventures we run. So we’ll go into a bit more details than normal about why rain, snow, and reservoir storage are important to Rock-N-Water.
What does it mean for Rock-N-Water?
While we would of course prefer, for a variety of reasons including for the overall health of California, to hear that we were in a Above Normal or Wet year, but Below Normal really isn’t all that bad. It’s more than enough water for all the adventures that we do. So campers won’t be adversely affected, and most likely they will be unaware of anything that might have been any different should more water have fallen this year. The specifics of what it means for us varies a little from one adventure to the next, so here is a break down for each:
You might think that whitewater rafting trips would be the most affected by changing water conditions, but water for rafting on the South Fork of the American River (SFAR) and the Middle Fork of the American River (MFAR) is actually some of the most consistent and reliable water of all the water we play with. For better or worse, there are vast networks of inner-connected water storage and collection reservoirs upstream of the rivers we raft on. This means that on the MFAR we have reliable water to go rafting on seven days a week from at least Memorial Day through Labor Day. On the SFAR we have water available for rafting year round on any given week, though depending on the time of year we might need to limit ourselves to rafting on specific days of the week.
The final water year determination for the summer won’t come out till the first part of May, but assuming we hold course with a Below Normal year, and even if we were to drop down into a Dry year, we will have plenty of water for whitewater rafting this summer from Memorial Day through Labor Day on all but Wednesdays. We will still probably get raft-able water on many or most Wednesdays this summer, we just won’t be guaranteed raft-able flows. So with just a little office scheduling magic2, and campers won’t even notice.
We visit a variety of canyons3 for our canyoneering river hikes, and each canyon is affected differently (even inversely) from there being a lot or a little water. This gives us great flexibility when preparing for your adventure as we pick out the canyon that will be best for you under the current conditions. When levels are too high for some canyons4 we’ll use the ones that do better with more water, and then when conditions change we will switch over to canyons that need far less water when water levels are not sufficient for other canyons. Come dry or wet year, we’ve got a canyon that’s fun to play in from May through September.
Cooling off in the water after a hard day of outdoor rock climbing is a great way to end the day. In years with deep or late melting snow packs, we are sometimes not able to enjoy the water until late June due to there being too much swift moving water. However, even in the critical dry years with less water, there has always been plenty of water to play in all summer long after rock climbing.
There is a delicate balance with snow for our backpacking program. To avoid there being “too much” snow, we aim for our first backpacking trips to be in the later part or the last full week of June. Aside from 2011 when nature actually dropped a few inches of snow in the last few days of June, we’ve never had a problem with there being too much snow for that first trip.
The other side of the snow equation for backpacking trips is there being enough water in the rivers for us to play in. The snow pack combined with the reservoir levels of the area makes it look like we’ll have plenty of water to play in all summer long this year.
Having snow to walk on when snowshoeing is a good thing, and there is still at least some 40 inches of snow in the area. Plenty of snow for amazing outdoor winter camps for snowshoeing, sledding, snow ball fights, and quiet times in God’s creation.
No worries at all for our California living history field trips. We really don’t need that much water to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation or to pan for Gold in the river.
So what’s all this mean?
It’s going to be a great year of adventures out in God’s creation with Rock-N-Water’s Christian Camps.-------------------------
- The 6 Levels are Super Dry, Critically Dry, Dry, Below Normal, Above Normal, and Wet [↩]
- it’s often as simple as planning to have a group raft on Tuesday and go rock climbing on Wednesday instead of the other way around [↩]
- Four canyons at last count, with two more currently being looked into as serious possibilities [↩]
- as is sometimes the case at the start of the summer [↩]