US Army Corps of Engineers
Sacramento District

Updated Folsom Water Control Manual signed by USACE, Reclamation

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Published June 13, 2019
Updated: June 13, 2019
man and woman sign document

Ernest Conant, Mid-Pacific regional director for the Bureau of Reclamation, and Cheree Peterson, SES, director of programs for the South Pacific Division, sign a special commemorative document representing the Folsom Dam Water Control Manual at a signing event, June 12, 2019. The newest version of the manual supports more accurate release decisions based on weather forecasts and uses the new auxiliary spillway more efficiently. The signing was a symbolic culmination of years of effort and thousands of man-hours invested in strengthening the dam and reducing risk for the entire Sacramento area.

document with markers

The commemorative document representing the Folsom Dam Water Control Manual, signed by representatives of various federal, state, and local agencies June 12, 2019. The newest version of the manual supports more accurate release decisions based on weather forecasts and uses the new auxiliary spillway more efficiently. The signing was a symbolic culmination of years of effort and thousands of man-hours invested in strengthening the dam and reducing risk for the entire Sacramento area.

Representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation signed the 2018 revision of the Water Control Manual for Folsom Dam and Lake, during a signing event June 12 at the dam.

Cheree Peterson, SES, Programs Director for the South Pacific Division, was the representative for the Corps, while Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant represented Reclamation. Both spoke during the event and ceremonially signed the document.

“The revised Water Control Manual is significant because it’s the first time we’ve used forecast-informed decision-making to shape operations, and because we incorporated the newly-constructed auxiliary spillway in our planning considerations,” said Peterson.

Folsom Dam is operated by Reclamation as part of the Central Valley Project. It provides flood risk reduction for the Sacramento metropolitan area, water supply, and water-related recreational opportunities.

The previous revision of the Water Control Manual was completed in 1987. Periodic updates of the manual are necessary to ensure the most current data representing snowmelt volume and rates, probability of flood events, erosion measurements, and other key factors are reflected in the operation of the dam.

In addition, the completion of the dam’s new auxiliary spillway in 2017 necessitated a revision of previous flood prevention data. The completion of the spillway and incorporation of improved forecasting abilities allows Reclamation to control water releases with a greater degree of precision.

Releases from Folsom Dam are also used to control water quality for project diversions to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and to sustain fish populations and migration routes in the American River.

“The signing of this manual officially gives us the operational flexibility to increase water storage in the spring and to reduce downstream flood risk by using the latest forecasting technology,” said Conant. "It's also a priority of the Presidential Memorandum of Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West 'to improve information and modeling capabilities related to water availability and water infrastructure projects.'"

Although Reclamation operates Folsom Dam, the Corps is responsible for developing the Water Control Manual and other federal guidelines for operating the nation’s flood risk reduction infrastructure. This function was assigned to the Department of Defense (at that time the Department of War) by the Flood Control Act of 1944.

“This day represents an achievement for the federal, state, and local partners who work together to operate this dam,” said Peterson. “It’s a testament to the hard work of many public servants.”

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Release no. 19-008